The president of the United States Wednesday boasted he had “no idea” what he was talking about when discussing international trade with America’s most important regional ally.
Speaking to donors in Missouri, Donald Trump said he told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the U.S. had a trade deficit with its neighbor, admitting he didn’t know if that was true.
An audio recording of the speech, obtained by the Washington Post, revealed a meandering 30-minute address during a fundraiser for Republican Josh Hawley, who will take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the November midterms.
Rather than talking up Hawley, Trump lavished praise on himself, criticized the media, and lashed out at a raft of U.S. allies that he said have ripped off the U.S. for decades.
Trump’s ramble failed to mention the firing of Rex Tillerson, the alleged hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, Gary Cohn quitting, Trump’s personal assistant being strong-armed out of the White House, campaign collusion with Russia, the special election defeat in Pennsylvania, or any of the other controversies currently engulfing the Oval Office.
Here’s what he did discuss:
- Canada: Trump called Trudeau “a good guy,” a “nice guy,” and a “good-looking guy” before mimicking the Canadian leader: “He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please. Donald, we have no trade deficit.’” Trump then told Trudeau he was wrong, before admitting to the donors “I didn’t even know. I had no idea. I just said, ‘you’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid.” According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada.
- Japan: Trump accused Japan of using gimmicks to deny U.S. automakers access to their consumers. “It’s 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,” Trump said. “If the hood dents, the car doesn’t qualify. It’s horrible.”
- South Korea: Trump threatened to pull U.S. troops out of the Korean Peninsula because Seoul was taking advantage of outdated trade rules, even though its economy was strong. “We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them,” Trump said. “We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let’s see what happens.”
- China: Trump accused China of building its current economic position completely on the back of its large trade deficit with the U.S.
- North Korea: Trump claimed the South Korean government told him it was the U.S. president’s war of words with Kim that brought the dictator to the negotiating table — though this claim has not been verified. He also took time to lash out at George W. Bush and Barack Obama for their weakness in dealing with Pyongyang: “They couldn’t have met. Nobody would have done what I did.”
Cover image: President Donald Trump honors the Major League Baseball 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, USA on March 12, 2018. (Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)