Trump asks Pittsburgh Penguins owner during White House visit if he can help out with NAFTA renegotiations

President Donald Trump suggested during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ visit to the White House on Tuesday that co-owner Ron Burkle should help renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“First of all, he’s a friend of mine for a long time,” Trump said of Burkle at the ceremony, which commemorated the Penguins’ Stanley Cup win earlier this year. “He’s a great, great negotiator. Ron, how about negotiating some of our horrible trade deals that they have made?”

“Here’s what I want, I want to get him,” Trump continued. “I would love to have Ron Burkle. It’s great to have you, Ron. But I really mean that. If you want to get involved in negotiating NAFTA, I like it. Cause we’re renegotiating NAFTA, Ron.”

Trump then seemed to jokingly add that Burkle may not be in favour of such renegotiations.

“Of course, he may not like that, because maybe he’s on the other side,” Trump said. “Because that’s what’s happening, that’s why it’s so hard to renegotiate these trade deals.”

“You’re not on the other side of NAFTA, Ron, are you?” Trump asked.

Burkle replied, “I am not.”

A California supermarket billionaire, Burkle was a major donor to President Bill Clinton. The Penguins co-owner has also known Trump for years, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported earlier this year.

Burkle’s ownership of the Penguins includes an interesting Trump connection. In 1999, prior to his and former NHL star Mario Lemieux’s purchase of the team, the two were set to meet in Florida to discuss the formation of an ownership group. Burkle arrived in West Palm Beach a few hours early and decided to use that time to visit a particularly famous property nearby, The Post-Gazette reported.

“I love houses, and I called up Trump and I said, ‘Can I go through Mar-a-Lago?'” Burkle said. “He said, ‘Yeah, go ahead. I’ll have them walk you around and feed you lunch.’ So, it was funny. The beginning of the Penguins story, in a way, started that day with Trump and Mar-a-Lago.”

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