White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, US President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary Of Defense James Mattis attend a breakfast meeting with the NATO Secretary General and staff at the U.S. chief of mission’s residence in Brussels on July 11, 2018, ahead of a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski (AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump launched his trip to the 29th annual NATO conference this week by deriding Germany at a pre-summit morning meeting, saying that “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” According to The Washington Post, the three senior officials seated next to Trump “seemed uncomfortable at times, pursing their lips and glancing away from the table.” That included White House chief of staff John Kelly, who was a few seats to Trump’s right.

Was Kelly uncomfortable with Trump potentially causing more problems with a U.S. ally? Nope, it was the food options. Leave it to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to spin it in a statement to the Post: “[Kelly] was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.”


The Post then surveyed body language experts to decipher Kelly’s reaction to Trump’s statements: “Kelly looks like he wants to be anywhere but where he is,” according to Mary Civiello, an executive communications coach who specializes in studying body language.

Much as we can agree that continental breakfasts do suck, it seems as if few people are buying Sanders’ story about Kelly’s reaction. Plus it makes Kelly seem a bit petulant, worried about pastries when the relationships between nations are at stake. And, honestly, if world leaders can’t get a full spread at a breakfast meeting, who can?

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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