Trump says now-famous G-7 photo with Merkel and other leaders was just 'an innocent picture'

  • A photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders talking to a seated US President Donald Trump became a sensation following the contentious G7 summit.
  • In an interview with ABC, Trump said the image was "such an innocent picture."
  • Trump also incorrectly claimed that the photo "was put out by my people," as it was released by Merkel's office.

The most famous photo to come out of this year's G7 summit was not the official "family portrait," but rather a photo of other world leaders talking to a seated President Donald Trump.

The photo became a sensation online, and many observers felt it underscored the growing tension between Trump and the other G7 leaders.

In an interview following the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Trump tried to downplay the photo's meaning to ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Trump said the group was simply waiting to see the final version of the official G7 communique, a largely symbolic statement about the progress made at the summit.

"She was looking at me, you know what we were doing?" Trump said of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We were talking while we were waiting for the final copy of the document. That was, that was such an innocent picture."

More reactions to the photo:

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Photo of Trump and Merkel at G-7 sets internet on fire
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Photo of Trump and Merkel at G-7 sets internet on fire
Trump left the #G7 early but by posting this photo, Angela Merkel got the last word. https://t.co/1ny6mj5Wci
@TwitterMoments https://t.co/lAIoJhtt4D
My God, this G7 is producing a hell of a set of images. Has Angela Merkel placed Trump on the naughty seat? https://t.co/yMIJr1nE1U
This is a Renaissance Painting. https://t.co/vNOJOFLLTl
Dueling photos of the same G-7 scene, from @Scavino45 (left) and Merkel spokesman @RegSprecher_AT https://t.co/yiEyuPXRb1
MERKEL: When I say "tariffs are bad" and press down on your foot, you smile and nod. TRUMP: Check! MERKEL: (Steppin… https://t.co/mQlOPBL7qM
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In the photo, Merkel, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are standing around a table where Trump was seated with his arms folded. Aides for each of the leaders stood by the side, including top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and national security adviser John Bolton.

Trump ultimately refused to sign on to the communique.

"I left, everybody was happy, everybody shook," Trump said. "You should ask Prime Minister Abe. Everybody was happy."

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G-7 Summit in Quebec, Canada
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G-7 Summit in Quebec, Canada
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'THIERRY QUENETTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Thierry Quenette/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss the joint statement following a breakfast meeting on the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss the joint statement following a breakfast meeting on the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'ERIC BOLTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (R) greets Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Eric Bolte/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump take part in a working session on the first day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. Picture taken June 8, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (not shown) during the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose during a family photo at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada?s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton watches as President Donald Trump meets with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump sits side by side with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'ERIC BOLTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk for the family portrait during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Eric Bolte/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'ERIC BOLTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Eric Bolte/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 Summit on June 9, 2018 in La Malbaie, Canada. - The leaders of the G7 failed to heal a tariff dispute that has pushed them to the brink of trade war, as Donald Trump quit their summit early and warned Canada, Japan and Europe that 'the gig is up.' (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
LA MALBAIE , QC - JUNE 09: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference at the end of the second day of the G7 Summit on June 9, 2018 in La Malbaie, Canada. Canada hosted the leaders of the UK, Italy, the US, France, Germany and Japan for the two day summit, in the town of La Malbaie. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves following the final press conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, June 9, 2018. - Trudeau confirmed he had warned Donald Trump his country would impose retaliatory tariffs on US goods from July 1, denouncing Trump's decision to invoke national security concerns to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel as 'insulting' to the Canadian war veterans who had fought alongside US allies. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP) (Photo credit should read LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch a G7 protest from the window of a restaurant in the old sector of Quebec City, Quebec, on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police gather in the old sector of Quebec City, June 9, 2018 where anti G7 protests are planned later in the day. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot police walk in formation during a protest march at the G7 Summit in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) participates in a roundtable discussion with Small Island Developing States at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
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The decision to remove the US from the communique set off a strong response from other G7 leaders. Merkel called Trump's decision "sobering and a bit depressing," and Macron also offered a strong rebuke.

"International cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks," Macron said in a statement.

Trump also incorrectly claimed that the photo was released by the US team.

"You know, we put out that picture. That was put out by my people," Trump told Stephanopoulos.

The image was first released by Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, and was taken by the official German government photographer Jesco Denzel.

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