During a fundraising speech in Missouri Wednesday night, President Donald Trump reportedly told supporters that he made up a trade claim in a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to audio of the event obtained by The Washington Post.
Trump reportedly called Trudeau a “nice guy, good looking guy” and admitted that he told Trudeau that Canada has a trade deficit with the U.S., even though he had no idea whether that was actually accurate.
Read the transcript of the audio from the event, per the Post:
“Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,’ ” Trump said, mimicking Trudeau, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post. “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit.’ He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed.
“… So, he’s proud. I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’ He said, ‘Nope, we have no trade deficit.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, I feel differently,’ I said, ‘but I don’t believe it.’ I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, ‘Check, because I can’t believe it.’
‘Well, sir, you’re actually right. We have no deficit, but that doesn’t include energy and timber. … And when you do, we lose $17 billion a year.’ It’s incredible.”
The U.S. actually has a trade surplus with Canada, according to the Post. Trump on Thursday morning attempted to clarify his comments on Twitter, but claimed the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada.
We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive). P.M. Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiating), but they do…they almost all do…and that’s how I know!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2018
The Wednesday night admission is particularly startling given Trump’s announcement last week that the U.S. would implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. He also called the North American Free Trade Agreement a disaster and claimed key allies like the European Union, China, Japan and South Korea were taking advantage of the U.S.