WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has just regaled another audience with a tall tale involving Canada, this one about a conversation involving the Keystone XL pipeline he insists never happened.
Spoiler alert: it did happen, in his office, with cameras present to record it.
On Thursday, the president claimed to an audience in Ohio that he never heard any gratitude from TransCanada Corp., the company behind the controversial project, after he signed an executive order approving the long-delayed project.
Trump joked that he’d recall the slight.
“The boss of whatever the hell company it is … never actually called me to say thank you,” Trump told an audience while promoting his proposal for infrastructure spending.
“But that’s OK. We’ll remember.”
Here’s something the president doesn’t appear to remember: TransCanada CEO Russ Girling was filmed standing next to him in the Oval Office, thanking him and celebrating as the president signed the order.
They even had a short conversation.
“I know, Russ, you’ve been waiting for a long, long time,” Trump told the CEO during the March 2017 exchange. He introduced Girling and then thanked him during a brief back-and-forth.
The record indicates Girling did, indeed, say thank you — twice.
“Thank you, Mr. President. This is a very, very important day for us, for our company,” Girling said, before delivering some other remarks.
A few days ago, Trump told a story about ad-libbing trade statistics in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sending aides out of the meeting to check the numbers and being proven right.
Sources in Ottawa say it remains unclear what meeting the president was referring to.
Trump was, however, telling the truth about his Keystone XL decision. In early 2017, he approved the project, which had been delayed for almost a decade and was rejected by former president Barack Obama.
The pipeline would carry more than one-fifth of the oil Canada sends to the United States and ship the landlocked Alberta crude to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
The company, Calgary-based TransCanada Corp., recently said it still has the necessary customers to make the project profitable, and intends to start construction in 2019. Opponents of the project say they will keep fighting it.
In Trump’s telling of the story Thursday, credit for the pipeline approval went to the wrong people, lobbyists, when it actually belongs to him.
“So, this guy (from the pipeline company) sitting (in) this beautiful chair in a certain place — I know exactly where, nice place, big company — and the consultants march into his office to tell him what a great job they did,” Trump said.
“They were dead. They had no chance. They failed. I got it approved.”