9 bizarre things Trump did on the world stage in 2017 you probably forgot

Donald Trump
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Donald Trump

President Trump has gotten the US locked in a military standoff with North Korea, thrown the future of the Iran nuclear deal into doubt, weakened NATO, emboldened Russia, and triggered a diplomatic crisis over Jerusalem.

And he's done that all in under 12 months.

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Trump's first year as commander in chief has been full of so much drama — most, though not all, generated by the president himself — that it's easy to lose sight of the other weird, inappropriate, or just plain bizarre things Trump did on the world stage in 2017.

So, without further ado, here's a reminder:

1) Gave Russia classified intel that compromised an undercover Israeli spy inside ISIS

On May 10, Trump met in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak's presence at the meeting raised eyebrows, as he was (and still is) a key figure in the FBI's investigation of the Trump administration's ties to Russia.

Perhaps even stranger, though, was the presence of a photographer from Russia's state news agency. He was the only journalist allowed in the room — all US journalists were barred from attending.

Then things got even weirder.

At one point in the meeting, Trump revealed highly sensitive information about an ISIS plot to bomb airplanes using laptops that endangered the life of an Israeli spy living under deep cover in ISIS territory.

The disclosure seems to have been the result of Trump bragging to the Russians about the quality of his intelligence. "I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day," the president said, according to the Washington Post.

After Trump's meeting, the Post reports, senior White House officials immediately called the CIA and the National Security Agency to try to contain the damage.

Israeli intelligence officials, meanwhile, warned that Trump's careless disclosure could jeopardize the tight US-Israel intelligence-sharing partnership.

"The fact that the American president is revealing information to other countries, to Russia, for Israel it will lead us to stop giving any intelligence to the Americans," a former senior Israeli intelligence official who worked for Israel's Shin Bet security service told Newsweek. "I can't see how the Israeli intelligence can keep giving sensitive intelligence to the Americans."

2) Told the president of France's wife "you're in such good shape!"

In July, the president and the first lady traveled to Paris for Trump's first-ever meeting with the newly-elected president of France, Emmanuel Macron.

Surrounded by reporters, Macron, Trump, and their wives smiled and embraced.

Trump then took a step back and appraised Brigitte Macron, looking her up and down. "You're in such good shape," he said to her. He then turned to her husband and repeated his appraisal of her: "She's in such good physical shape. Beautiful."

Here's a video of the encounter:

As Vox's Sarah Wildman wrote at the time, "It seems no woman, no matter her station, no matter how official, no matter how much she might be, you know, married to the president of France, is safe from Trump's inappropriate appraisals."

3) Shoved the prime minister of Montenegro

In May, Trump attended his very first NATO summit in Brussels, where he delivered a tense speech lecturing the assembled leaders of America's NATO allies for not spending enough on their militaries.

After the speech, the heads of state gathered to take a group photo. As they began taking their places, Trump found himself in the middle of the pack, obscured by several other world leaders — including Prime Minister Dusko Markovic of Montenegro.

But instead of politely saying "Excuse me" and maneuvering around Markovic, Trump decided to grab the prime minister by the arm and physically shove him out of the way. Trump then adjusted his suit jacket.

4) Hung up on Australia's prime minister

Just one week into his presidency, Trump used a January 28 phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to alienate the leader of one of America's closest and most loyal allies.

Trump bragged about the size of his electoral college win and ranted at Turnbull about a deal the Obama administration had struck with the Australian government to take in a small number of refugees who were trying to enter Turnbull's country.

Trump was angry that he had to honor this deal his predecessor had made — a deal he didn't seem to fully understand but hated nonetheless. Turnbull calmly and respectfully tried to correct Trump's misunderstandings, but it didn't go well.

"I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous," Trump said. He then ended the conversation, just 25 minutes into what was supposed to be an hour-long call.

Put even more simply, Trump said he had a better time talking on the phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin — whose country has been one of America's most prominent adversaries for decades — than the leader of one of America's all-time best friends.

Turnbull publicly downplayed the tensions, but in June, video of Turnbull mocking Trump on stage at the Australian Parliament's annual midwinter ball leaked (remember, when it's summer here, it's winter in Australia).

In the video, Turnbull mimics Trump's exaggerated hand gestures and steals his lines — "The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much! We are winning like we have never won before."

5) Revealed a covert CIA operation on Twitter

In a late-night tweet attacking the Washington Post July 24, Trump confirmed the existence of a covert CIA program to arm and train Syrian rebels to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.

It was a stunning admission, even though the program was a well-known secret. The CIA rarely, if ever, confirms or denies stories about its operations, even if they're reported in the media.

And while the president has the authority to declassify information as he sees fit, particularly if he feels it's in the nation's interest to do so, his casual disclosure of a highly classified operation — on Twitter, no less — only exacerbated the ever-growing rift between him and the nation's intelligence agencies.

6) Used his chief of staff's dead son to make a false claim about Obama

On October 4, four US Special Forces members died in an ambush in Niger. Two weeks later, a reporter at a Rose Garden press conference asked Trump why he hadn't yet reached out to the families.

"If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls," Trump responded, inaccurately. "A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate."

Trump doubled down on that accusation the next day — and decided to use the death of the son of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in Afghanistan in 2010 to substantiate his unfounded claim.

"Now, as far as other representatives, I don't know," Trump said in a radio interview with a Fox News host. "I mean, you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama. You could ask other people. I don't know what Obama's policy was. I write letters, and I also call."

A White House official later told Politico that Kelly didn't receive a call from Obama after his son was killed.

That's misleading, though: The White House hosted a breakfast for the families of fallen troops in May 2011, and Kelly — then a serving general — and his wife sat at the same table as First Lady Michelle Obama.

7) Thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for kicking US diplomats out of Russia

In late July, Putin ordered the United States reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 employees in retaliation against new US sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. The New York Times called it the "harshest such diplomatic move since a similar rupture in 1986, in the waning days of the Soviet Union."

But instead of sticking up for America against Putin, Trump thanked him.

"I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll," Trump told reporters a little over a week later. "There's no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we've been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We're going to save a lot of money."

This may not come as an enormous surprise, but Trump's analysis was way off. The Daily Beast's Spencer Ackerman pointed out on Twitter that while the diplomats were formally "kicked out" of Russia, the State Department still had to continue to pay them. It's not as though they were fired from their jobs.

8) Picked a Twitter fight with London's mayor after a terror attack

On the evening of June 3, three ISIS-inspired terrorists rammed their van into pedestrians on London Bridge before getting out and stabbing people in bars in London's nearby Borough Market neighborhood, killing seven people and wounding 48.

The next morning, the city's popular Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, went on television to encourage Londoners to stand strong in the face of terror and not to be frightened by the increased police presence in the coming days.

"We will never let them win, nor cower in fear," Khan said. "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed."

Khan's comments enraged Trump, who promptly took to Twitter to blast the mayor.

As Vox's Zack Beauchamp explained, Trump took Khan's comments completely out of context: The mayor was saying there was no reason to be alarmed by the increased police presence in the area, not by terrorism in general.

At first, Khan didn't respond to Trump directly, choosing instead to have a spokesperson slam Trump in a statement to the press. "[The mayor] has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks," the spokesperson said.

This seemed to only incense Trump further. The next day, the president again attacked the mayor on Twitter:

Khan finally weighed in later that day on television, telling the BBC: "Some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities."

Remember: This is a man whose city had suffered a devastating terror attack just two days before and who was trying to help the people of London recover. And the president of the United States was picking a fight with him on Twitter for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

9) Complimented a brutal military dictator's shoes

During a whirlwind tour of the Middle East in May, Trump met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who overthrew his country's democratically elected president in a 2013 coup, killed more than 800 protesters in a single day, and has imprisoned tens of thousands of dissidents since he took power.

Sitting on red velvet chairs in a lavishly appointed room in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Sisi complimented Trump on his "unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible." As Sisi and the translator spoke, Trump's eyes kept darting down toward the floor by Sisi's feet.

President Donald Trump (R) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi take part in a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump (R) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi take part in a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.

A few minutes later, as reporters began exiting the room, Trump decided to compliment Sisi back: not on his personality — on his shoes.

"Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man..." Trump said.

As CNN's Noah Gray noted at the time, "It's unclear the exact shoe the Egyptian President was wearing, but [they] appeared to be black boots, similar to those Trump was wearing, but shinier."

So it seems that while the Egyptian dictator was praising Trump, Trump himself was literally distracted by shiny objects.