Donald Trump Boasts About Being an Idiot in Talks With Canada

Even for Donald Trump, this is a weird story. Here’s the setup:

President Trump boasted in a fundraising speech Wednesday that he made up information in a meeting with the leader of a top U.S. ally, saying he insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with its neighbor to the north without knowing whether that was the case.

Trudeau came to see me. 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 obtained by The Washington Post….“I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know….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.’ ”

So far, this is typical Trump: bragging about how ignorant he is but supposedly getting the better of his oh-so-urbane counterpart anyway. But then “his guy” comes back with the numbers:

‘Well, sir, you’re actually right. We have no deficit but that doesn’t include energy and timber … And when you do, we lose $17 billion a year.’ It’s incredible.”

Energy? Timber? WTF is that supposed to be about? Here’s our actual trade deficit with Canada:

For the past three years, we’ve had a trade deficit in goods with Canada of about $20 billion, mostly because we import lots of oil and natural gas from them (about $70 billion in 2017). But that’s only tangible goods. We export a lot of services to Canada (financial services, computer services, etc.), and as a result we’ve been running a total trade surplus of about $5 billion. This is what Trudeau was talking about. It has nothing to do with timber, and the number $17 billion doesn’t show up anywhere.

This information takes about five minutes to look up. What kind of “guys” does Trump have who come back to him with a cockamamie story like this? Or did they come back with the real numbers and now Trump is just inventing a tall tale about his triumph over Justin Trudeau? Or what? Can anyone out there make any more sense of this story than I can?

POSTSCRIPT: Also, if this story is anywhere close to true, can you just imagine what Trudeau told his people when he got back? I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that debrief.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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