Despite calling the North American Free Trade Agreement the “worst trade deal ever,” President Donald Trump opted not to terminate the deal outright last month after taking calls from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Now, according to Canada's National Post, at least one of those calls appears to have been made at the behest of White House officials.
Citing multiple Canadian government sources, the National Post claims that White House officials phoned Prime Minister Trudeau's office in Ottawa to recruit his help in talking down the president.
“You never know how much of it is theatre, but it didn’t feel that way,” said one of the National Post's anonymous government sources. “Maybe they’re just learning how to be a government. At least they were open to the conversation, and that stopped them doing something rash and destructive.”
The calls between Trump, Peña Nieto, and Trudeau took place on the afternoon of April 26. By that night, a readout of the president's calls with the two leaders affirmed his decision against terminating NAFTA.
The official White House readout referred to the calls as “pleasant and productive,” and included a statement from the president, saying:
"It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”
President Trump took to Twitter on April 27 to suggest that the calls were instrumental in his decision “to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate,” writing:
Speaking in the Oval Office that day, President Trump elaborated on his decision:
“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate."
“I like both these gentlemen very much,” Trump said, speaking about his fellow North American leaders. “I respect their countries very much. The relationship is very special. And I said, I will hold on the termination — let’s see if we can make it a fair deal.”