President Trump held a press conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday, and boasted the U.S. had sold "the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets" to its NATO ally in December. But while the F-35 is an actual type of plane that exists in objective reality, the F-52 jets Trump boasted of "delivering" to Norway do not, because the F-52 is a fictional vehicle that appears only in the Call of Duty video game series.
“In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets,” Trump said at the presser. “We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them already a little ahead of schedule.”
America is indeed selling 52 F-35s to Norway, as Reuters reported in November, and Trump was reading from a prepared statement during his press conferenced with Solberg. The most plausible explanation for what happened is that the president saw the number "52" in his prepared remarks, and confused it with the "35" that's used in the name of the actual jets.
F-52s, by contrast, exist only in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
According to the Washington Post, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't respond to a question about whether or not Trump is a Call of Duty fan.
The gaffe was reminiscent of an incident in September wherein Trump, addressing a delegation of African leaders, said that "Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient." But while Zambia and Namibia are both countries, Nambia is not. The president made the mistake twice during his speech, once while greeting the leader of Namibia. The White House, in turn, deleted all records of the mistake from the official transcript of the event.
Advanced Warfare, a first-person shooter that takes place in 2054, features the F-52 jet in the "Throttle" mission, in which players are tasked with flying the plane through a region called "New Baghdad" in an attempt to capture the game's main villain. Advanced Warfare was well-received by critics, with one calling it "faster and more focused than any Call of Duty game before it."
In addition to discussing non-existent planes, Trump used the presser with Stolberg to discuss his proposed, but yet-to-be-funded, border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, saying that any bill giving protections to undocumented immigrants must be coupled with a provision that funds a border wall.
"Without the wall, it doesn't work," Trump explained.
Trump also addressed recent reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is likely to interview the president himself as part of the Department of Justice's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself. Trump and the White House categorically deny all allegations of collusion and obstruction, and on Wednesday, Trump said that "it seems unlikely" that he'll be interviewed by Mueller.
"Certainly I'll see what happens," Trump said. "But when they have no collusion, and nobody's found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview." The president added that all the talk of collusion is in fact "a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election." Mueller, it should be noted, is a Republican.
Although the U.S. and Norway are allies, the press conference revealed significant chasms between the two countries' leaders on several crucial issues, most notably climate change and trade. Stolberg used the press conference to highlight her country's commitment to the Paris Climate Accords and free trade agreements, both of which Trump opposes.
"Norway is combating climate change. It's an important issue for us. And we are committed to the Paris Agreement," Solberg said. At another point in the conference, she noted that "for a small country like Norway, it's important for our ability to trade and to invest across borders that we have fair trade and that we have multilateral trade systems also."
Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, and Reuters reported Wednesday that Canadian officials believe Trump will pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.