The president has pledged to “study” the deal, which he claimed would see America take “thousands of illegal immigrants” from Australia, despite repeated assurances from senior US officials he would honour the agreement.
“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” he tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The tweet came after the Washington Post reported that Trump’s phone call to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the weekend was hostile.
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 paper’s report, 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.
Despite the hostility of the call, Turnbull went public with his claim that Trump had promised to honour the deal.
Today, Turnbull wouldn’t comment on the tenor of the phone call, and insisted the relationship between Australia and the US was strong.
He said despite the tweet the president, his press spokesman, and the US embassy had confirmed Trump would honour the deal.
“Well, that is his tweet. I’m telling you what has been said to us, and said by his spokesman, and said by the embassy,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio on Thursday afternoon.
This is not a deal that he would’ve done or that he would regard as a good deal.
“But the question is, will he commit to honour the deal? And he has given that commitment.”
Turnbull would not say whether Trump labelled the deal “dumb” or otherwise in their phone conversation on Sunday.
He said the pair spoke frankly, and he made the case as “powerfully and persuasively” as he could.
But he denied reports the call ended abruptly or in anger.
“The call ended courteously.”
– with AAP
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