Trump tore out magazine picture of Justin Trudeau, scrawled odd message and mailed it to Canadian embassy
Donald Trump reportedly tore out a magazine picture of Justin Trudeau, scrawled a brief note about the Canadian prime minister “looking good”, and made White House officials mail it to the neighbouring country’s embassy.
The message – first reported by Axios – is said to have been written by the US president on the torn-out cover of a May 2017 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, which featured an image of Mr Trudeau alongside a caption reading “The Anti-Trump”.
On it, Mr Trump reportedly jotted a note reading something to the effect of, “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” according to the US news outlet.
The Canadian ambassador considered the note so strange he thought it was a prank, but after calling US officials was told the note was genuine.
Although some White House staff reportedly considered the note inappropriate, the National Security Council ultimately decided it was done in good humour and would be considered by Ottawa to be friendly contact.
Another exchange in December of that year reportedly saw Mr Trump send Mr Trudeau a document purporting to show a US trade deficit with Canada.
Mr Trudeau reportedly responded by including in his letter a printout of a US government website showing America actually has a trade surplus over its neighbour when services are included with goods.
The Canadian prime minister reportedly included a smiley face alongside the document.
Months later, on Dec. 8, 2017, President Trump falsely told a rally crowd in Pensacola, Florida, that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada. Around that same time, Trump also mailed Trudeau a document purporting to show that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, according to a source with direct knowledge.
- Trump wrote in Sharpie on the document: “Not good!!” or something to that effect, the source recalled. Trump’s document only mentioned America’s deficit in the trade of goods and ignored its surplus in services (the two combined would gave the U.S. its overall surplus).
A few weeks later, Trump received a handwritten letter from Trudeau. The note, on Trudeau’s official stationery marked by the Maple Leaf, began with a friendly tone, but ended with a drop of acid.
- “Dear Donald,” Trudeau wrote in the letter dated Dec. 20, 2017, according to a source with direct knowledge of its contents, which 2 other sources confirmed. “It’s been a busy year! Enjoy the Christmas holidays — you deserve it.”
- “One thing,” Trudeau added. “You gave a great speech in Pensacola, but you were slightly off on the balance of trade with Canada. USTR says so! All the best for 2018, Justin.”
The second page of the letter brought the kicker. Trudeau enclosed a printout of Canada’s informational page from the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
- Trudeau underlined the section on the USTR website, which at the time reported that “the U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.” Trudeau circled the $12.5 billion and drew a cheeky little smiley face next to it, according to a source with direct knowledge.
A Canadian government official responded to this reporting: “We’re not going to comment on whether or what paper was exchanged between our 2 countries. There was a lot of back and forth. That said, it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce’s own figures. On your second point (the Bloomberg cover), no comment, but we don’t deny it.”
Why this matters: The U.S.-Canadian relationship is, in normal times, low-friction. But not under Trump, who views Trudeau as an irritant at best. In a conversation in the White House last year, Trump told aides he thought Canada was “the worst” country to negotiate with. “Who would think? Canada?” Trump said.
- Trump now says very little about Trudeau, according to an adviser, and believes he and his trade representative Bob Lighthizer got the better of the Canadians in their trade negotiations.
Behind the scenes: Trump privately refers to Trudeau as a “wise guy,” per sources with direct knowledge. He describes Trudeau as young and cocky, and he resents it when Trudeau comments on American politics.
- Trump has gleefully recounted to aides how he threatened the Canadians with auto tariffs. He says it got him a better deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
- Trump has also privately described Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland as “very nasty,” according to senior administration officials.
- Trump was pleased with the optics of the G7 last year, an adviser said. Trump says he dominated Trudeau there, the adviser added, and loves the viral photo of himself sitting with his arms crossed as world leaders hover over him. Trump also relished leaving the summit early — snub to Trudeau, who Trump said had treated him with disrespect.
- The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
The big picture: The president is in Year 3 of his relationships with foreign leaders, and in some cases they’ve changed substantially. Trump’s bromance with France’s 41-year-old leader Emmanuel Macron has faded, and Trump privately places Macron in a similar “wise guy” category as the 47-year-old Trudeau.
- Last week, Trump chided Macron on Twitter for “purporting” to represent the U.S. in conversations with Iran.
- Trump has also hammered China with escalating tariffs and increasingly tough rhetoric — a significant change from his more frequent emphasis on his close personal relationship with President Xi Jinping in Year 1.
[Yahoo News ,Axios]