The US president reportedly fumed about the deal the Obama administration struck with Canberra to take refugees from Nauru and Manus Island when the pair spoke on Sunday morning.
It was the “worst deal ever”, he told the prime minister.
According to The Washington Post, Trump complained he was going to get killed politically and accused Australia of trying to export the “next Boston bombers”.
Unnamed US officials told the publication that Trump’s call with Turnbull stood out, with the president reportedly telling the prime minister he’d spoken with four other leaders that day – including Russian President Vladimir Putin – and “this was the worst call by far”.
The call was scheduled to go for about an hour, but Trump ended it abruptly after 25 minutes, the Post said.
The Post reported that Trump had behaved in a similar fashion with leaders of other countries but, “his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
The Post also reported the president told Turnbull it was his “intention” to honour the refugee agreement.
Trump indicated he was sceptical about what America got out of honouring the deal.
After Turnbull apparently suggested they move on and talk about foreign affairs, including the conflict in Syria, Trump ended the conversation.
The official statement about the phone call released by the White House told a different story.
“Both leaders emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally,” it said.
Turnbull on Monday described the call as constructive, saying the pair acknowledged the already strong and deep relationship between the US and Australia and committed to making it stronger.
He also thanked the president for “committing” to honour the refugee agreement.
Today, Turnbull refused to answer questions about the report, sticking to his previous public statements.
“I’m not going to comment on these reports out of the United States about the conversation,’ he told reporters in Melbourne.
“It’s better that these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately.”
Turnbull sought to assure Australians the relationship with the US was very strong.
Read the Post’s account here.
The report adds fuel to confusing messages coming out of the White House about whether Trump has decided to honour the Obama administration’s refugee deal with Australia.
Turnbull announced after his weekend phone call with Trump that the president had agreed to honour the deal.
Then, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday that the deal – specifically related to 1250 people – would go ahead, but that the refugees would have to clear “extreme vetting”.
Shortly after the press conference, the ABC reported a White House source saying Trump was still considering whether the agreement would go ahead.
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