Melania grimaces after smile order
Footage showing Melania Trump's reaction to an apparent order by her husband to smile as the pair have their photos taken has gone viral.
The US President and First Lady were touring Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington D.C. on Tuesday when they paused for a photo opportunity.
As the cameras start flashing, Mr Trump forces a grin before appearing to mouth to his wife: "Can you please smile?"
In response, Mrs Trump offers the briefest of grimaces before resuming her deadpan expression, with footage of the awkward exchange sending social media into meltdown.
In a tweet, CNN reporter Tancredi Palmeri called the cringe-worthy moment "the silent rebellion of Melania".
Trump asking her to smile in front of press.— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 2, 2020
The silent rebellion of Melania pic.twitter.com/HpOvf8D6Kg
If Trump wants Melania to smile he should show her a picture of Justin Trudeau: pic.twitter.com/y7qHwC3xa2— BarrDeceivesForTrump (@darinp2) June 2, 2020
The shrine visit began under a cloud after the United States' most senior black Catholic bishop condemned the trip in a strongly worded statement.
"I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree," the Archbishop of Washington, Wilton D Gregory, said.
"Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth.
"He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace."
The Archbishop was referring to the heavy handed tactics used to break up a peaceful protest at Layfayette Park on Monday so that Mr Trump and his entourage could walk to St John's Episcopal Church for a photo opportunity.
Reverend Gina Gerbasi today gave a dramatic account of how the incident looked from inside her church.
She said she was completely blindsided by Mr Trump's appearance before being driven out of her own church by force.
"It was completely unprovoked," she told CNN chief correspondent Jim Acosta.
"I didn't hear the bullhorns saying, 'The President's coming.'"
Rev Gerbasi said she and others were standing on the patio of the church "when the tear gas started".
"All I'm doing is coughing," she said. "I'm wearing a collar, I didn't hear a warning. It was completely unprovoked. He turned it into a literal battleground.
"This was not a safe enough environment where I could stay 'stop in the name of God.' This was dangerous. They were in riot mode."
Rev Gerbasi's interview follows an emotional Facebook post published yesterday.
Originally published as Melania grimaces after smile order