The Canadian journalist who published President Donald Trump’s disparaging, off-the-record remarks about trade talks with Canada flatly rejected the president’s charge that the Bloomberg journalists who had conducted the Oval Office interview had leaked the material.
“I’d said I wasn’t going to say anything about my source for the quotes Trump made off the record to Bloomberg,” Daniel Dale, the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, wrote on Twitter Saturday. “However, I don’t want to be party to the president’s smearing of excellent, ethical journalists. So I can say this: none of the Bloomberg interviewers was my source.”
Dale, who was not personally present for the Star interview on Thursday, published off-the-record comments from the meeting in which Trump told the Bloomberg News journalists that he was not compromising with Canada on ongoing trade talks.
“Here’s the problem, Trump said. “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, referring to the Canadian government.
In another off-the-record remark, Trump said that any deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs on imports of Canadian-made cars.
“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off,” he continued. “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.
The comments, coming only hours before Trump’s deadline for Canada to sign a a tentative U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, caused a media firestorm. Canada, in the end, did not sign a deal, although talks continue.
Eric Miller, president of a U.S.-Canada consulting firm based in Washington, said the disclosure “will reverberate in the background of the NAFTA (trade) talks for the remainder of the negotiations,”the Star reported.
Not long after the quotes appeared in the Star, Trump began pointing fingers.
First, while acknowledging on Twitter Friday afternoon that he had made the comments, Trump said they were off the record “and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED.”
“Oh well, just more dishonest reporting,” he added. “I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!”
Eight hours later, he returned to the topic with a direct accusation that the Bloomberg journalists had broken the ground rules of the interview.
“Still can’t believe that Bloomberg violated a firm OFF THE RECORD statement,” he tweeted. “Will they put out an apology?”
Trump also raised the issue in a speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, Friday evening, saying, “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. It’s fine. It’s true.”
The Bloomberg News journalists included editor-in-chief John Micklethwait and reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev.
Also present were White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and presidential assistant Dan Scavino, Vox reports.
Trump was also in the room.
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