"I do not believe he heard the question," Sean Spicer says
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The White House says President Donald Trump ignored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's request for a handshake on Friday because he did not hear it.
"I do not believe he heard the question," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told Der Spiegel, the German news magazine.
It marks the first time the White House has commented since video of the awkward exchange between Trump and Merkel went viral online.
On Saturday, Trump claimed on Twitter that he "had a GREAT meeting with" Merkel. Then, he proceeded to falsely allege that German "owes vast sums of money to NATO," adding that the U.S. "must be paid for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany."
However, as one former U.S. ambassador to NATO pointed out, Trump's tweets misrepresent the way NATO functions.
“The President keeps saying that we need to be paid by the Europeans for the fact that we have troops in Europe or provide defense there. But that’s not how it works," Ivo Daalder told the Washington Post.