On Thursday, Bloomberg ran a story that included an update by President Trump on the status of the renegotiation, if you will, of NAFTA with Canada. The US and Mexico have reached a tentative deal and everyone is now waiting on Canada. This is important to Trudeau because the United States is Canada’s major trading partner and any pull back from NAFTA will hit Canada much harder than the US. Somehow, off the record comments Trump made to Bloomberg made their way into the pages of the Toronto Star.
In comments Trump wanted to be “off the record,” the U.S. president told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday that he is not making any compromises at all in the talks with Canada — but that he cannot say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”
“Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that, and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people,” Trump said of the Canadian government.
In another remark he did not want published, Trump said that the possible deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs.
“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said. The Impala is produced at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario.
Trump was incensed…more on that later.
Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2018
But he acknowledged the remarks were accurate.
President Trump: "The said 'President Trump said off the record' and then they go onto this…This is a first. These are very dishonorable people. But, I said in the end it's ok, because at least Canada knows how I feel. So, it's fine." pic.twitter.com/cCg6oDya9j
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 31, 2018
There are two things here that are quintessentially Trump. He’s not a guy to bargain with if you need a deal. And he’s vindictive as hell. As I mentioned above, Trudeau is under major pressure to make a deal. The US-Mexico announcement caught Canada flatfooted and embarrassed Trudeau…assuming that is even possible.
And Trump, while wanting to cut a deal still has a raging hard-on for Trudeau since the kerfuffle over Trump signing a joint NATO communique.
So now US-Canada negotiations are thrown into turmoil and the Canadians are wondering if the US negotiators were acting in good faith.
The question, of course, is who leaked the comments. Cui bono, as they say, who benefits? Bloomberg certainly doesn’t benefit by showing they can’t be trusted and I’d guess that most of Bloomberg’s reporters want a NAFTA deal, regardless of their feelings about Trump. That sort of leaves one logical suspect: John Barron.
Realistically, the comments by Trump aren’t going to hurt him at home with anyone who doesn’t already hate him. It you can’t abuse Canadians what’s the purpose of being American? It fits with the tough dealmaker image Trump likes to project. Canada may be pissed off but they are going to have to make a deal and if Trump can humiliate Trudeau, making any deal look like abject surrender by Trudeau, then Trudeau gets screwed politically. This is a manifestly good thing.
I’m on Facebook. Drop by and join the fun there.