CBSN

Canadians confused about what Trump says he told Trudeau: Report

Canadians are confused about a meeting President Trump reportedly told donors he had with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to the Canadian National Post. 

In comments to donors in St. Louis Wednesday night, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post, Mr. Trump said he didn't know what Canada's trade status with the United States was when he insisted that the United States did not have a trade surplus with its neighbor to the north. 

"Trudeau came to see me," the Post reported the president as saying. "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 of the private event in Missouri 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.'"

But the Canadian government isn't sure what meeting Mr. Trump was referencing. A Canadian official told the National Post it may have been a conversation by phone, not in person, as the president suggested. The topic of trade deficits, that official told the Canadian paper, has come up more than once in conversations between the two leaders.

Mr. Trump doubled down on his claims on, where else, Twitter.

"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!" the president tweeted Thursday morning. 

On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stood by the president's comments — even though the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Canada insist the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada

"They're not taking into account some of the additional things like energy and timber that wouldn't be included in those numbers. But once you include those, it shows that there actually is a deficit," Sanders said, adding that the president was "accurate."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.