A transcript of a heated phone call between the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Donald Trump has now been leaked. The call took place back in January and was set to cover the terms of the refugee transfer deal between the two countries.
There were reports at the time that the call was not successful, but both parties later rejected these comments to the press.
Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2017
Now the Washington Post has obtained a transcript of the call, which became heated as the two leaders discussed the deal that would see the US resettle refugees from Manus Island and Nauru in exchange for Australia accepting central American refugees from the US.
“This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it,” said Mr Turnbull during the call.
President Trump expressed concerns that the deal, which had been brokered under the previous Obama Administration, would make him look like “a dope.”
In the call, Mr Turnbull explained Australia’s current immigration policy to the President, saying that the aim of detaining refugees and asylum seekers was to deter people smugglers. “It is not because [the refugees] are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers we had to deprive them of their product,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Trump expressed admiration for Australia’s policy. “That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am,” he said.
According to the transcript, Mr Turnbull repeatedly implored for Mr Trump to hold up the US side of the deal. Mr Trump became increasingly frustrated throughout the call, “I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people,” he said. “This is a killer.”
The call ended on a heated note, with Mr Trump saying he was fed up with the Prime Minister, “I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” he said. “Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”
The conversation briefly turned to matters surrounding Syria and North Korea, before the call was abruptly ended.