Trump said that, during that meeting, he insisted the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada without knowing whether that was really the case, according to the Post, which obtained an audio recording of the president’s Wednesday fundraising speech.
Here’s the Post’s transcription of part of the president’s talk:
“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.'”
As The Washington Post notes, the U.S. Trade Representative office says the country actually has a trade surplus with Canada, an American ally.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s emailed request for comment.
Trump has frequently complained about the U.S.’s trade deficits with economies such as the European Union and China. He has also accused those economies of ripping off the U.S. and hurting American workers.