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President Trump’s most notorious pen pal — the man whom he says he “fell in love” with after receiving his “beautiful letters” — has some competition, according to a new revelation from Axios.
The strange and secret history of Trump’s hand-written missives to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is detailed in an article published today by the online news outlet.
Citing “4 sources with direct knowledge” of the correspondence, Axios tells of Trump spying a copy of the May 1st issue of Bloomberg Businessweek which featured a cover picture of the young and vibrant Canadian leader accompanied by the headline “The Anti-Trump.”
Upon seeing the magazine, Trump reportedly tore off the cover and “wrote on it, in silver Sharpie, something to the effect of ‘Looking good! Hope it’s not true!’ according to these sources,” the website writes.
Axios says that the torn magazine cover and the handwritten note “went through the normal clearance process inside the National Security Council” and, despite the unusual form for official inter-governmental communication, was approved for mailing because “it was done in good fun and would be interpreted as positive outreach.”
It was then sent to the Canadian Ambassador who initially mistook it for a prank and called the White House to confirm its authenticity.
While there is no word on how Prime Minister Trudeau reacted when he received the scrawled note on the magazine cover, another incident later in 2017 prompted a suitable response from the Canadian leader.
Shortly after Trump lied to a crowd at a Pensacola, Florida rally about a supposed trade deficit with Canada, he sent Trudeau a document that referred to the deficit with a hand-scrawled “No good!” (or words to that effect) written across the page in thick black Sharpie ink.
A few weeks later, Prime Minister Trudeau responded with a handwritten letter of his own to the US president. Written on Trudeau’s official Maple Leaf stationery, the letter began in a promising and affectionate manner.
“Dear Donald, It’s been a busy year! Enjoy the Christmas holidays — you deserve it,” the December 20, 2017 letter starts off.
“One thing,” Trudeau continued. “You gave a great speech in Pensacola, but you were slightly off on the balance of trade with Canada. USTR says so! All the best for 2018, Justin.”
Attached to the odd holiday greeting was a printout of the page from the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative that contained a summary of official U.S. data on the two nations’ balance of trade.
To make it easy for Trump to see his point, Prime Minister Trudeau underlined the portion of the data that read “the U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.” He also circled the $12.5 billion figure and adorned it with a presumably sarcastic smiley face icon.
When Axios went to a Canadian government representative for comment on the alleged Sharpie-scrawled diplomacy, they refused to comment but stopped short of issuing a denial of the truth of the story.
“We’re not going to comment on whether or what paper was exchanged between our 2 countries. There was a lot of back and forth. That said, it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce’s own figures. On your second point (the Bloomberg cover), no comment, but we don’t deny it.”
Meanwhile, Axios reports that Trump now privately refers to Trudeau as a “wise guy,” a “young and cocky” unwanted commentator on the American political situation.
Presumably, Trudeau would get more respect from Trump if he started a rogue nuclear weapons program and started lobbing missiles near the waters of Maine, Washington State, and the Great Lakes…and write more beautiful love letters.
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Original reporting by Jonathan Swan at Axios.