|President Trump speaks on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office on Jan. 28, 2017. (Pete Marovich/Pool photo via European Pressphoto Agency)|
Instead, President Donald Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior US officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.
At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day - including Russian President Vladimir Putin - and that “this was the worst call by far.” Trump’s behaviour suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.
“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honour its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.
As news of the heated exchange got out Wednesday, Trump continued to bash the refugee agreement in a late night tweet.
“Do you believe it?” the President tweeted. “The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal.”
Prime Minister Turnbull declined to comment on the apparently hostile overseas call, and would not immediately reveal how many refugees are expected to be resettled in the U.S. The characterizations provide insight into Trump’s temperament and approach to the diplomatic requirements of his job as the nation’s chief executive, a role in which he continues to employ both the uncompromising negotiating tactics he honed as a real estate developer and the bombastic style he exhibited as a reality television personality.
The depictions of Trump’s calls are also at odds with sanitized White House accounts. The official readout of his conversation with Turnbull, for example, said that the two had “emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the U.S.-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.”This clip from Australia is just astonishing. Its PM told aides "Trump is a bully" and that he pushed back. A supposed ally. pic.twitter.com/Y44DQMGXkR— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) February 2, 2017
A White House spokesman declined to comment. A senior administration official acknowledged that the conversation with Turnbull had been hostile and charged, but emphasized that most of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders - including the heads of Japan, Germany, France and Russia - have been productive and pleasant.
Trump also vented anger and touted his political accomplishments in a tense conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pea Nieto, officials said. The two have sparred for months over Trump’s vow to force Mexico to pay for construction of a border wall between the two countries, a conflict that prompted Pea Nieto to cancel a planned meeting with Trump.
- Washington Post