Donald Trump

Trump Admits Making Up Trade Claim in Trudeau Talk

"I didn't even know. ... I had no idea. I just said, 'You're wrong,'" the president said of a conversation about trade deficits with Canada

President Donald Trump continues to insist the United States has a trade deficit with Canada, following news reports that he claimed at a fundraiser about talking trade with the country's prime minister without knowing all the facts.

Trump says on Twitter Thursday: "We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive). P.M. Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn't like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiating), but they do...they almost all do...and that's how I know!"

Trump, who routinely inflates trade deficits, has previously complained about a trade deficit with Canada even though the U.S. runs an overall surplus with that country — when the value of services is included in the calculation.

But Trump "didn't have to look at the specific figures" to claim the United States has a trade deficit with Canada, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said Thursday that Trump "was accurate" when he made the claim Trudeau.

Trump spoke about trade during a fundraising speech in St. Louis on Wednesday, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post and verified by NBC News. The paper reports that Trump said he freestyled with the facts when talking trade with Trudeau.

Trump said Trudeau told him there was no trade deficit. Trump said he replied, "'Wrong, Justin, you do.' I didn't even know. ... I had no idea. I just said, 'You're wrong.'"

Trump claimed the figures don't include timber and energy, which Sanders echoed Thursday.

Later in a tweet, Sanders provided the specific trade deficit numbers Trump was referring to, writing, "In 2017 we had a $17.58 B trade deficit. In January 2018 we had a$3.63 B trade deficit. Both reflect trade in goods. Which is exactly what @POTUS referenced."

The Office of the United States Trade Representative says the United States has a trade surplus with Canada.

NBC News has reached out to the White House for comment.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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