Fact Checking Trump's Germaphobia And Penchant For Pressing The Flesh

If you were grossed out by the salacious BuzzFeed story (Making America Gross Again) about President-elect Donald Trump and an unsanitary bedroom situation in Moscow, you're not the only one. The Donald himself is icked out about it, he says, because he's a self-proclaimed germaphobe.

Trump made that confession earlier today while getting grilled by the press about the leak of a dossier containing unverified allegations about Trump's relationship with Russia. 

"Does anybody really believe that story?" Trump told reporters. "I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way. Believe me."

But if we did that, we'd probably be on the hook for Trump steaks.

So we fact-checked his germophobia claim. And a quick Google search turned up conflicting evidence. In 2011, Dan Amira of New York Magazine drew attention to Trump's alleged germophobia in the feature article Does Donald Trump Have a Flesh-Pressing Problem? Which should win an award for the most disgusting synonym for shaking hands.

But Amira deserves props for doing what few of us are brave enough to do. Reading Trump's books. His article quotes a passage from The Donald's self-congratulatory memoir The Art of the Comeback (1997), in which he wrote, “One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get. I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.”

Two years later, Time Magazine quoted Trump denouncing the handshake as savagery.

"I think the handshake is barbaric.," he said. "Shaking hands, you catch the flu, you catch this, you catch all sorts of things."

Case closed, right? Not quite. As is often the case with Trump, his words don't match his actions regarding handshakes. When forced to shake hands, Trump has a distinct approach that involves grabbing the other person's hand and pulling them in. Here are a few examples.

As you can see, Trump's signature handshake involves getting a whole lot more contact with a person - and their germs - than an average greeting. Maybe this is a case of facing - or grazing his fears. Or is Trump flip-flopping on pressed flesh (to use Amira's turn of phrase)?

Banner image: September 15, 2016: Donald Trump embraces John Paulson and shakes hands after Trump's presentation to the Economic Club of New York. (Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock)


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