President Trump said he made up facts during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about trade, the Washington Post reported.
According to leaked audio from a Republican fundraising dinner in Missouri on Tuesday night, Trump made the admission in a speech. “Trudeau came to see me," he said. "He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please.’
“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.
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“I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid … And I thought they were smart.”
The United States actually has a $12 billion trade surplus with Canada, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
The comments come less than a week after Trump signed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which have stoked fears of a trade war with Europe and Asia. Trump originally planned to include Canada and Mexico in the tariffs, but advisers convinced him to exempt the two countries.
Trump has a long and extensive history of making false statements and repeating lies. But telling an audience he did so in trade negotiations with a major ally takes that to a new level.
The Toronto Star, which has been keeping a running total of Trump's lies and false statements in office, says the president has stepped up his pace. On average, he's making 4.1 public false statements daily. "He makes things up every day," tweeted Daniel Dale of the Star. "It’s kind of funny he has newly appalled people because for the first time he was honest in admitting he was doing so."
Trump is averaging 4.1 public false claims a day in 2018. He makes things up every day. It’s kind of funny he has newly appalled people because for the first time he was honest in admitting he was doing so.— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 15, 2018
At 9:30am Thursday, Trump tried to assuage the damage with a tweet. "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!," he wrote.
Vox pointed out that the tweet is a lie: "According to the US Trade Representative’s official statistics, the United States runs a $12 billion trade deficit in goods with Canada. That is more than offset by our $24 billion trade surplus in services, leading to a $12 billion total trade surplus. Running an overall trade deficit is not really a bad thing, and looking at particular bilateral trade balances is totally irrelevant."