In fundraising speech, Trump says he made up trade claims in meeting with Justin Trudeau
March 14 at 10:47 PM Email the author
President Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on tax policy at Boeing on Wednesday in St. Louis. From left: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, and Boeing employee Hazel Jean Mims. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Trump boasted in a fundraising speech Wednesday that he made up information in a meeting with the leader of a top U.S. ally, saying he insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with its neighbor to the north without knowing whether that was the case.
âTrudeau came to see me. Heâs a good guy, Justin. He said, âNo, no, we have no trade d eficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,ââ Trump said, mimicking Trudeau, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post. âNice guy, good-looking guy, comes in â" âDonald, we have no trade deficit.â Heâs very proud because everybody else, you know, weâre getting killed. ...
âSo, heâs proud. I said, âWrong, Justin, you do.â I didnât even know. ... I had no idea. I just said, âYouâre wrong.â You know why? Because weâre so stupid. â¦ And I thought they were smart. I said, âYouâre wrong, Justin.â He said, âNope, we have no trade deficit.â I said, âWell, in that case I feel differently,â I said, âbut I donât believe it.â I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, âCheck because I canât believe it.â
âWell, sir, youâre actually right. We have no deficit but that doesnât include energy and timber â¦ And when you do, we lose $17 billion a year.â Itâs incredible.â
T he United States Trade Representative office says the United States has a trade surplus with Canada.
Trump launched a blistering attack against major U.S. allies and global economies, accusing the European Union, China, Japan and South Korea of ripping off the United States for decades and pillaging the American workforce. He also described the North American Free Trade Agreement as a disaster and heaped blame on the World Trade Organization for allowing other countries to box the United States in on trade.
He also seemed to threaten to pull U.S. troops stationed in South Korea if he didnât get what he wanted on trade with Seoul, an ally. He said the country had gotten rich but United States politicians never negotiated better deals. âWe have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them,â Trump said. âWe lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers between North and South Korea. Letâs see what happens.â
âOur allies care about themselves,â he said. âThey donât care about us.â
Trumpâs rare comments that laid bare his approach to arguing trade facts with foreign leaders show how he might try to engage with numerous other heads of state in the coming weeks. Trump has said he will impose tariffs on steel and trade imports as soon as next week, a steep increase in duties that could impact some of the U.S. governmentâs biggest trading partners.
Trump said countries can request exemption from these tariffs but only after direct negotiations with him. And the audio from the fundraiser shows how difficult these discussions might prove.
In his 30-minute speech to donors in Missouri, Trump heaped praise on himself while ticking through a list of U.S. allies that he said were actually taking advantage of the United States.
The president did not mention his abrupt firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet, the personnel turmoil that is swirling in Washington, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian interference, or reports of his affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels â" and his lawyer paying her off.
While his White House picked up the pieces after a Republican lost a special election in a western Pennsylvania congressional district that Trump won by 20 percent in 2016, and pollsters said the results showed how Trump was dragging down the Republican Party, Trump took none of the blame. He said that the candidate, Rick Saccone, would have lost even bigger without him. And he said the Democrat, Conor Lamb, won the seat because he was âlike Trumpâ but that he would vote with Pelosi.
Trump was in Missouri to fundraise for Josh Hawley, who is taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He called McCaskill âbad for Missouri, and bad for the country.â But he barely spoke about Hawley. Instead, he talked about Trump â" even bragging about his 2016 ele ction win.
Trump described his decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un through the prism of making history and besting his predecessors while lamenting his media coverage, questioning the United States allies and labeling his presidency as âvirgin territory.â
âThey couldnât have metâ with Kim, he said, after mocking former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. âNobody would have done what I did.â
âItâs called appeasement, please donât do anything,â he said of other presidents.
âThey say, maybe heâs not the one to negotiate,â he said, mocking a voice of a news anchor. âHeâs got very little knowledge of the Korean Peninsula. Maybe heâs not the one â¦ Maybe we should send in the people that have been playing games and didnât know what the hell theyâve been doing for 25 years.â
The through-lines of his meandering speech were simple: Trump was tougher than all the rest, and the United States w as not going to be laughed at or taken advantage of.
He accused Japan of using gimmicks to deny U.S. auto companies access to their consumers, said South Korea was taking advantage of outdated trade rules even though its economy was strong, and said China had single-handedly rebuilt itself on the back of its trade surplus with the United States.
âItâs the bowling ball test. They take a bowling ball from 20 feet up in the air and drop it on the hood of the car,â Trump said of Japan. âIf the hood dents, the car doesnât qualify. Itâs horrible,â he said. It was unclear what he was talking about.
He said he didnât even want Japan to pay the tariffs but to build more automobiles in the United States, which he said Japan would do if tariffs were imposed. There is no evidence of such a possibility as of now.
His comments were among his most protectionist to date and didnât identify a single benefit the United States receives from its trading rel ationships.
The "free-trade globalists," he said, are against his trade moves because âtheyâre worldly people, they have stuff on the other side.â Gary Cohn, the presidentâs top economic adviser, recently quit over the tariffs and was derisively labeled by his critics as a âglobalist.â
Trump mocked other politicians for wanting to keep NAFTA, calling Mexico âspoiledâ and saying that Canada had outsmarted the United States. âThe best deal is to terminate it and make a new deal,â he said.
Above all, he cast his presidency in historic proportions, saying he was attracting so much media criticism because he was doing so well. He seemed fixated on his media coverage, with much of his story-time about North Korea focused on how the media covered it, even talking about a specific CNN segment with Erin Burnett.
He said the news media was criticizing him for âconcedingâ a meeting with Kim.
âThey were afraid of being blown up. Then all of a sudden, they say, letâs not meet,â he said of reporters.
While Trump said some decry his rhetoric and think his bellicose and mercurial tendencies could bring the United States into a war, Trump explained why he taunted the North Korean president as âLittle Rocket Man.â He said the South Koreans told him Kim Jong-Un was agreeing to meet because of the tough United States sanctions and that they promised to not do any nuclear tests or missile launches until a meeting occurred. That comment could not be verified.
âHeâs going to get us in a war,â he said, again mocking a news anchor. âYou know whatâs going to get us in a war? Weakness.â
He said Republicans needed to run on their tax bill this year, but he was determined to not call it âtax reform,â as many other Republicans have done. He said Democrats would not appoint judges that Republicans like while reversing tax cuts and taking away guns, an unproven claim.
He implicitly rebuked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) for not changing the rules of the Senate where only 51 votes were needed on all legislation, saying more Republicans were needed because the current leadership would not act and no one could explain why the current status quo made sense.
Trump criticized judges in the 9th Circuit, saying that his presidency would reshape the judiciary and change courts such as that one. He said he planned to pick 145 judges and gave a âthanksâ to Obama for leaving so many vacancies.
At the end of the day, the event, like it usually is with Trump, was about marketing. He said Republicans needed to run on tax cuts because they were very âpopular.â
âDo me a favor, donât call it tax reform, it hasnât worked in 45 years,â Trump said he told others. âYou say youâre reforming taxes, that means taxes could go up.â
âI actually said, letâs call it the Tax Cut Cut Cut plan,â Trump said. â I actually did.â
He added: âThey thought it sounded a little hokey and called it something else. I liked the first one better.âSource: Google News