The Toronto Star is reporting that President Donald Trump has said privately that he won’t make compromises with Canada in high-stakes talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“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.”
The report appeared to raise doubt about whether the two countries can reach a deal soon to keep Canada in the trading bloc.
The Star obtained the comments from a Trump interview with Bloomberg News. Trump wanted the comments to remain private because otherwise “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,” he said of the Canadian government.
“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, according to the source. Chevy Impalas are produced at a General Motors factory in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
Trump reportedly made the remarks in an interview in the Oval Office with Bloomberg he said was off the record, but the conversation was leaked by the Toronto Star.
The Star said in its report that the Canadian newspaper could not independently confirm Trump’s bombshell remarks, but the Canadian government is confident they are accurate.
“If this was said, it was said in an off the record capacity. I understand you guys have obtained it; I’m not sure where you’ve obtained it from,” White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters said in response to the report.
“The Canadian and American negotiators continue to work on reaching a win-win deal that benefits both countries,” Walters further clarified.
Trump took to Twitter to blast Bloomberg and the report, though he did not deny the accuracy.
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
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has endured a rocky relationship with Trump, fended off a question about the American president’s comments at a news conference Friday.
“Over the past year and a half, there’s a lot of things that have been said from time to time,” Trudeau said. “Our government’s approach is always to stay constructive, positive and engage on the substance of issues.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.