Trump privately says he won’t compromise with Canada on trade: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE said privately that he won’t compromise at all with Canada on trade, according to remarks obtained by The Toronto Star.

Trump, in comments he wanted “off the record” in an interview with Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday, said he won't be budging in trade talks with the U.S.'s northern neighbor, according to a source familiar with the conversation. 

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The president reportedly said he could not disclose his position publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal."

“Here’s the problem. 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 of the Canadian government, the Star reported.

The president reportedly said a possible deal on trade with Canada would be “totally on our terms.”

“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said.

The Star noted that the Impala is manufactured at a General Motors plant based in Oshawa, Ontario.

Though the Star pointed out that Bloomberg accepted Trump’s request not to reveal the remarks, the Canadian publication itself made no such agreement.

Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, who was present during the Thursday interview with the president, did not dispute the authenticity of the reported remarks to the Star.

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters issued a statement to the Canadian publication saying she was looking into “the authenticity of what was said,” noting there are “sensitivities” to off-the-record remarks.

“If this was said, it was said in an off the record capacity. I understand you guys have obtained it; I’m not sure where you’ve obtained it from,” Walters said.

When pressed about the comments reported Friday by the Star, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's team said it believed Trump's alleged remarks were accurate.

Government officials told the Star that they believed the remarks confirmed their suspicions that the Trump administration was not really planning to compromise with Canada on trade negotiations. One government official added that the Canadian government had not seen "any movement" from the U.S. on the issues most important to Canada. 

In remarks taken from his interview and later quoted by Bloomberg, Trump said a deal on trade was "close" and that Canada ultimately had “no choice” other than to strike a deal with the U.S.

Shortly after those remarks, the president reportedly said: “Off the record: totally on our terms. Totally.” 

The Star reported that Trump continued in his off-the-record comments, saying, “Again, off the record, they came knocking on our doors last night. ‘Let’s make a deal. Please.' "

Micklethwait declined to comment on the alleged remarks reported by the Star but said in an email to the publication, “‘Off the record’ means ‘off the record’ — and we should respect that." 

It is unclear how Trump's alleged remarks will affect ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and Canada.

According to the Star, Trudeau's team held a critical top-level meeting with Trump’s team on Friday morning, revealing the quotes to their U.S. counterparts.

— Updated at 12:02 p.m.