Donald Trump raised a wine glass on Tuesday to toast the United Nations at a luncheon following his General Assembly speech.
The moment would have gone unnoticed if not for the fact that the president is famously against alcohol consumption: His brother Fred Jr. died an alcoholic’s death in his 40s.
But there he was hoisting what looked like a fine cabernet, toasting ‘the potential – the great, great potential – of the United Nations,’ and appearing to take two sips before passing the stemware to an aide.
He later raised a similar glass at a lunch table, toasting UN Secretary General António Gutteres.
Unusual sight: Donald Trump raised a wine glass to toast the United Nations on Tuesday
Trump, who famously avoids drinking because his brother died of alcoholism in his 40s, appeared to sip twice
The president later raisde a second glass to Guterres at a lunch table
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks didn’t respond to a question about whether Trump made a rare exception to his tee-totaling.
But rumors abounded on Twitter, largely pushed by reporters who know about the president’s preference for taking a pass on all things intoxicating.
‘Is that wine or Diet Coke for Trump?’ asked NPR lead politics editor Domenico Montanaro.
NBC host Katy Tur chimed in: ‘Trump famously doesn’t drink because of his brother, Fred. It looks like he just had a sip of wine. Has anyone else seen that before?’
It’s unclear if Trump broke his own rule or toasted with grape juice, and a White House spokesperson didn’t respond to questions
Politico reporter Annie Karni ventured that Trump was ‘giving a toast with a glass of red wine in his hand. Took a sip.’
Bloomberg White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs cautiously called it ‘maroon liquid.’ Fox News correspondent Ellison Barber said it ‘seems to be wine.’
One Trump fan fired back: ‘Any chance that wasn’t wine in POTUS glass? At church we have bread and grape juice, not bread and wine. They do look alike.’
If the president did bend his rule for Tuesday’s special occasion, it wouldn’t be the first time.
He said during a 2015 Family Leadership Summit that drinking communion wine is part of his religious life.
Trump was asked onstage by pollster Frank Luntz if he has ever sought forgiveness from the almighty.
The future president initially said no, and then allowed that ‘when we go in church, and when I drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink – and have my little cracker, I guess that’s a form of asking for forgiveness.’
Trump’s United Nations toast spoke of how the global body he once ripped has ‘tremendous potential.’
In the past he has called the UN ‘not a friend of democracy’ and blasted its ‘utter weakness and incompetence.’
Then-candidate Donald Trump said in 2015 that one form of seeking forgiveness from God comes ‘when we go in church, and when I drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink’
But at the start of Tuesday’s lunch, Trump spoke of the ‘great honor’ of having the UN in his hometown.
‘For years I’ve been a critic, but I have also been somebody that said that the United Nations has tremendous potential,’ Trump said, as Gutteres looked on.
‘I have to say that as someone born in New York and raised in New York it is a great honor to have the United Nations in New York and always has been,’ the president said.
‘We are working very hard to solve world problems, but there is no better forum – there can be no better forum – and certainly there can be no better location where everybody comes together,’ he said.
Trump continued: ‘So I want to congratulate you. The word is “potential.” The potential of the United States in terms of what it’s done has been wonderful, but we can do better and we’re going to. The potential of the United Nations is unlimited.’
‘And I really believe, and I met your representatives and I know you well, you are going to do things that will be epic. And I certainly hope you will, but I feel very, very confident. So I just want to toast everybody in the room.’