Everything Trump Touches Dies: French Tree Edition

The tree that President Trump and French President Macron planted last year has died.

When French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife visited the White House last year, one of the events included the planting of a tree from France on the White House lawn. As it turned out, that tree was removed soon after it was planted. At the time it was explained that U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations required plants from foreign countries to undergo quarantine before entering the United States to prevent the spread of diseases or parasites. White House horticulturalists at the time also said that it would be better to replant the tree in the fall or early spring after the quarantine period had passed.

As it turns out, the tree was never replanted and now we know why:

The symbolic tree that President Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, planted at the White House last year has died, according to French media reports.

The small oak, which came from the historic Belleau Wood to the east of Paris, where American forces halted a German counteroffensive in the waning months of World War I, was a gift from Macron to Trump during his April 2018 state visit.

As Macron wrote on Twitter at the time, the tree “will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us.” Instead, the dead tree can now be seen as a reminder of an amicable relationship that began as “le bromance” and has since become rather antagonistic.

A major turning point in the Macron-Trump relationship came during the same visit, when the two presidents gathered with their wives on the White House lawn to plant the tree. Macron had flown across the Atlantic to try to convince Trump not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, a signature policy achievement of the Obama administration.

The French president, who had won in a landslide the year before and is the youngest head of state in modern French history, clearly believed in his ability to charm.

Compared with other European leaders, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron seemed to get along quite well with the mercurial Trump at the time, having delighted him in July 2017 with a massive military parade in Paris that Trump then tried, unsuccessfully, to re-create at home.

So the young French president — who already had failed to convince Trump to keep the United States in the 2015 Paris climate accord — decided to test his luck on Iran.

Trump clearly relished leading Macron along but ultimately stood his ground. In one memorable scene, the U.S. president flicked what appeared to be a piece of dandruff off Macron’s lapel in front of White House photographers, an apparent visible reinforcement of the power dynamic at play.

The death of the tree was first reported in France’s Le Monde newspaper last week, during Trump’s visit to the beaches of Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

According to those reports, after it was planted, the tree had to be uprooted and subjected to a normal quarantine period for a plant brought from a foreign country to the United States. But it apparently died during the quarantine period and was never replaced or replanted.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At about the same time the tree was under quarantine, the once close ties between the two men appeared to fray, with the most fraught moment in the relationship coming in November 2018, seven months after the tree had been planted.

After Macron — on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I — delivered a rousing speech against the evils of nationalism, Trump arrived back in Washington and unleashed a tweetstorm against him.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%,” Trump wrote.

CNN’s Jeannie Moos has more:

Somehow, the whole thing does seem to be weirdly symbolic, doesn’t it?

Note: Post title borrowed from the book by former GOP political adviser, and Trump critic, Rick Wilson

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Paul L. says:

    after it was planted, the tree had to be uprooted and subjected to a normal quarantine period for a plant brought from a foreign country to the United States. But it apparently died during the quarantine period and was never replaced or replanted.

    So Trump is to blame for a Government civil servant’s incompetence.

    Like Obama with the DEA after law-enforcement negligence almost killed Daniel Chong putting him in a small, windowless cell and forgotten for five days without food, water or bathroom facilities.

    “This issue remains an ongoing internal disciplinary matter and we cannot comment any further.”

  2. Gustopher says:

    Everything Trump Touches Dies: French Tree Edition

    I wish he would touch himself more often then.

    (Just wanted to put that image in everyone’s heads. I am grossly immature. You are welcome.)

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    If you believe Stormy, he likely can’t find it.

  4. Jax says:

    Geez, Paul, get a sense of humor. And lose the whataboutism. If only you showed as much concern for the thousands of kids who were separated from their parents at the border and the Trump Administration has since “lost track of”.

  5. Guarneri says:

    Petty. Pathetically petty.

  6. Jax says:

    @Guarneri: Apparently you were in a coma during the “Obama tan suit” debacle, and the “Ehrmagerd, he likes dijon mustard” scandal.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    Petty. Pathetically petty.

    Awwww, are your tender sensibilities offended? Well suck it up, buttercup…you know what’s really pathetically petty? Trashing a dead war hero

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    You are forgetting the great Arugula kerfuffle.