According to Politico, President Trump confirmed reports about off-the-record comments he made earlier today, regarding Canada and the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.
In a private interview with Bloomberg News, which was later published in the Toronto Star on Friday, Trump reportedly said that the United States will not be willing to compromise with Canada during future NAFTA negotiations unless it’s “totally on our terms,” adding that Canadian officials have no choice in the matter.
“It may be by Friday or it may be within a period of time, but ultimately they have no choice. I think we’re close to a deal,” Trump told Bloomberg, according to the Toronto Star.
“Off the record,” Trump added, “Canada’s working their a** off.”
“Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no,” the president continued. “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.” These comments made to reporters at Bloomberg News were supposed to be off-the-record, and therefore not published, but the Toronto Star wasn’t bound to the same agreement.
“Again off the record, they came knocking on our doors last night. ‘Let’s make a deal. Please,'” Trump said.
After learning that his off-the-record comments were leaked to another publication, President Trump took to Twitter to voice his frustration.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!”
White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters questioned the authenticity of the Toronto Star‘s report.
“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,” she said.
NAFTA BOMBSHELL: The Star has obtained inflammatory secret comments about Canada that Trump made "off the record" yesterday, and they have upended the talks this morning: https://t.co/BDx49fq8pz
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 31, 2018
Later on, Walters added that both American and Canadian officials are hoping to reach an agreement that is beneficial to both countries.
During an event in North Carolina Friday afternoon, President Trump stood by his previous tweets and leaked statements.
“I said in the end it’s OK because at least Canada knows how I feel,” adding that “off-the-record” may not be a legal term, but it is “a term of honor.”
“If we don’t make a deal with Canada, it’s fine, but we’ll see how it works out,” he said.