The United States set stage for a potential trade war with some of its top allies after the Trump administration ended a two-month exemption by hitting the European Union, Canada and Mexico with steel and aluminum tariffs.
Before the countries were slapped with tariffs, President Donald Trump reportedly had a conversation over the phone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the imposition of the tariffs.
The Trump administration justified the new tariffs on national security grounds. During the call, Trudeau raised the issue and asked Trump he could justify that.
While answering the question, Trump referred to the 206-year-old War of 1812 and said, “Didn't you guys burn down the White House?”
With the comment, Trump made it clear that the grounds on which he imposed the tariffs are baseless because there is a problem with his question.
The incident did take place and the White House was set ablaze during the war, however, Canada didn’t burn it down – Britain did. Canada didn’t even exist at that time and Britain had colonies there, what is now Canada. The inferno destroyed the White House along with other prominent structures in the city.
A source familiar with the call was asked by CNN whether the comment by Trump was taken as a joke.
“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,” an anonymous source said.
The tariffs were met by anger.
Trudeau called the tariffs an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the United States, and Canada announced retaliatory steps. During an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press”, he said it was “insulting” to hear the U.S. claim that Canadian steel and aluminum posed a national security threat.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow responded to the Canadian prime minister’s comments and said “he’s overreacting.”
Trump, who has vowed to protect U.S. industry and workers from what he describes as unfair international competition as part of an “America First” agenda, is due to hold bilateral meetings with Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron during the upcoming G7 Summit that Canada is hosting.
However, the meeting could be particularly frosty given the current circumstances.
Rick: We learned today that apparently Canada burned down the WH in the War of 1812.— Rick Smith (@RickSmithShow) June 7, 2018
Adam: Sometimes I feel I need to take out a history book and refresh my memory, but not for this. Trump is unbelievable--is it ignorance, or that he isn't book smart?@AdamParkhomenko
I am completely embarrassed for our nation.— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) June 6, 2018
Trump reportedly told Canadian PM Trudeau that the tariffs on Canada were due to National security concerns.
As an example he used the war of 1812, claiming that Canada 'burnt the WH down'
That was Britain, 206 years ago, you idiot!
SCOOP: When Trudeau pressed Trump on national security justification for tariffs on Canada Trump responded: “didn’t you guys burn down the WH?” That was Britain during the War of 1812 https://t.co/tj4iHX7wPD— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 6, 2018
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Carlos Barria