Trump Slammed Canada for Burning Down the White House. It Didn’t, Really

June 6, 2018, 10:07 PM UTC

Canada has long been a close U.S. ally. But trade tensions are heating up, culminating in a heated phone call between President Trump and Justin Trudeau, in which Trump dropped some history on the Canadian Prime Minister. Trouble is, it’s not really true.

According to CNN, the two leaders were discussing on May 25 new U.S. tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports from Canada. Trudeau reportedly asked Trump to justify his view that the tariffs were a national security issue. Trump responded, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”

Trump was referring to the War of 1812, which was fought in part over the control of Canada. But it was British troops that burned down the White House during the war.

One source asked by CNN whether the comment was meant as a joke replied: “To the degree one can ever take what is said as a joke. The impact on Canada and ultimately on workers in the U.S. won’t be a laughing matter.”

Trump has previously admitted to making a claim to Trudeau that he wasn’t sure was true, insisting that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada. Trump later said he “had no idea” whether the claim was true.

Trudeau has been outspoken about the steel and aluminum tariffs, calling them “insulting” to Canada and declaring: “We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the US administration.” Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor, later replied that Trudeau was “overreacting” to the tariffs.

The report follows remarks that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert made Tuesday while endorsing the “strong relationship” the U.S. has with Germany. In defending the relationship, Nauert oddly cited the D-Day invasion, which took place 74 years ago Wednesday.

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany,” Nauert said. “Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government of Germany.”

D-Day is considered the largest seaborne invasion in history, when Allied forces invaded Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe under Nazi control. Allied casualties topped 10,000 on D-Day alone, while opposing German forces saw nearly 9,000 casualties.

Trump’s critics have frequently called out his statements concerning historical events, including vaguely worded praise for Frederick Douglass that implied the abolitionist was still alive, a view that Napoleon was defeated by Russia “because he had extracurricular activities,” and his opinion that if Andrew Jackson had been born later, “you wouldn’t have had the Civil War.”