Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. Like, come on. Trump's White House confiscating a tree planted by French President Emmanuel Macron? It’s just too good to be true.
Last week, Macron was in Washington to meet with Trump, in what some see as a blossoming “bromance”. They talked about a new nuclear deal with Iran, what to do in Syria, and, of course, poll ratings. Because how could they not.
As part of the state visit, Macron also gave Trump an oak sapling. This came from Belleau Wood near Paris, where 1,811 Americans died during World War I in June 1918.
“100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom,” Macron tweeted. “This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us.”
Macron and Trump planted the tree together on the South Lawn of the White House in a tree-planting ceremony, each wielding a golden shovel. Their wives, Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump, watched on. Yeah, it was a bit weird.
But then things got a bit awkward. Because just four days later, Reuters photographer Yuri Gripas noticed the tree was gone. In its place was a yellow spot, on the South Lawn where the gift from Macron used to be. Oops.
Where did it go? Well, it wasn’t actually a snub from the US to France. What actually happened is the tree was quarantined, as is the norm for living organisms brought to the US. Reuters noted it would be inspected for parasites that could spread to other trees.
The US Customs and Border Protection regulations say that all plants brought into the US must be declared and inspected. If they're not, there’s a fine of up to $1,000. We’re presuming Macron didn’t get fined.
“It is in quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported to the US,” the French ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, tweeted. “It will be replanted afterwards.”
He also added that the roots were enclosed in a plastic protection and “carefully isolated” to prevent any contamination. Later Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for Melania, told CNN the plan had always been to quarantine the tree.
What’s more, this type of oak actually does better when it’s planted in the fall, so its roots can prepare for the next summer. The French radio station Franceinfo suggested the tree might be back in October as a result.
So, there you have it. Trump doesn't hate French trees.