In a very important, very “exclusive” report by CNN, sources say that President Donald J. Trump waxed historical in his rather “testy” call with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau.
According to CNN, in his May 25 phone call with Trudeau about the new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports the Trump administration is imposing on Canada, Trump went full 1812 on the prime minister. CNN reports:
According to the sources, Trudeau pressed Trump on how he could justify the tariffs as a “national security” issue. In response, Trump quipped to Trudeau, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” referring to the War of 1812.
Unfortunately, as CNN makes sure to point out, Trump got his facts a little crossed up: Yes, the White House was set ablaze during the War of 1812, but it was the British who were lighting fires. And like most Trump mix-ups, there’s a kernel of truth somewhere in there:
Historians note the British attack on Washington was in retaliation for the American attack on York, Ontario, in territory that eventually became Canada, which was then a British colony.
Anxious to follow up on its exclusive information, CNN asked one of its sources how Trudeau received Trump’s quasi-historical joke, the not particularly gleeful source replied: “To the degree one can ever take what is said as a joke. The impact on Canada and ultimately on workers in the US won’t be a laughing matter.”
CNN reached out to the White House and the National Security Council, but unsurprisingly couldn’t get anyone to bite on the War of 1812 reference. However, a senior administration official did acknowledge to CNN that “some of the President’s conversations with his foreign counterparts on the subject of trade have been confrontational.”
Trudeau has publicly decried the new tariffs and dismissed the idea that the new policy has any connection to national security, as suggested by the administration. “The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is, quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable,” he told Meet the Press.
But Trump has stood firm behind the move, saying it’s time for America to finally “be treated fairly on trade.”