Donald Trump reportedly blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during their conversation on the weekend, saying “this was the worst call by far”.
President Trump may be off to a rocky start with one of the United States’ closest allies: Australia.
In a Saturday phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump lambasted an agreement between the two countries over refugee resettlement and bragged about the size of his Electoral College victory, as well as the fact that he had held several calls with other world leaders that same day, News Channels reports.
“This was the worst call by far,” Trump allegedly told Turnbull during their conversation, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the phone call. Trump also spoke with Shinzo Abe of Japan, Angela Merkel of Germany, François Hollande of France and Vladimir Putin of Russia that day.
The account of the phone call seems to contradict that of the White House, which said that the two men “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.”
When Turnbull asked Trump if the U.S. would take in 1,250 refugees currently being held in Australia — an agreement that the two countries made under President Obama — Trump reportedly called it “the worst deal ever,” and suggested that Australia may be trying to send the U.S. “the next Boston bomber.”
The phone call was expected to last an hour. But after about 25 minutes, The Post reports, Trump suddenly ended it.
Late Wednesday evening, Trump said he is weighing the “dumb deal” under which the U.S. would resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers who were placed in controversial detention facilities on the island nation of Nuaru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea after attempting to enter Australia illegally. In exchange, Australia would accept refugees from Central America.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration would honor the deal but said the refugees would undergo “extreme vetting.” However, the White House reportedly later walked that back and said Trump is still considering the arrangement, according to Australian news.
Separately, The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Trump told Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto during a Friday phone call that Mexico had “a bunch of bad hombres down there,” and threatened to send in the U.S. military to intervene.
The White House and Mexico’s government have both denied those reports.
Turnbull refused to comment on The Post’s report, but said the refugee agreement between the two countries would go ahead as planned.
“That assurance was confirmed by the President’s spokesman in the briefing room of the White House,” Turnbull said at a press conference Tuesday. “And our respective officials, are continuing to work on the implementation of the arrangements. That’s the position.”
“These conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately. If you see reports of them, I’m not going to add to them,” he continued.