During a speech to donors in Missouri on Wednesday, President Trump admitted to simply making stuff up during a recent meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“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 The Washington Post, which obtained audio of the event. “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,’” Trump continued. “It’s incredible.”
Trudeau was right — Trump’s claim about Canada having a trade surplus with the United States is false. In fact, the opposite is the case. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the US’s trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.
Hours after the Post published its report about Trump’s speech, the president took to Twitter to try and defend himself.
“We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive),” Trump wrote. “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!”
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
In short, Trump’s argument is that because “almost all” countries have a trade surplus with the US, Canada must. It does not take a logic degree to understand how that line of reasoning could lead to bad conclusions.