Trump Seems To Be In A Tiff With Australia Over Refugee Deal

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump had an angry phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this past weekend, according to multiple reports.

The president all but confirmed these reports by subsequently tweeted that an existing deal to take in refugees from Australia is “dumb.”

Both The Washington Post and CNN reported that Trump’s call with Turnbull on Saturday was harsh in tone. The Post report said that Trump ended the call early, saying it was his “worst” call with a world leader that day. The report added that Trump called a pledge to take in over 1,000 refugees from Australia made by President Barack Obama “the worst deal ever.”

The Post reports that the deal is for 1,250 refugees, however, according to the Center for Immigration Studies there are 1,600 refugees available for resettlement in the U.S. under the deal Obama made.

The vast majority of the refugees, which are being held on island-based detention camps off the coast of Australia, are Iranian, one of the seven nationalities Trump has temporarily banned from entering the U.S. Trump has also suspended refugee entry for 120 days.

Both the CNN and the Post report that Trump was angry about the refugee deal made by Obama in November, and that Trump told Turnbull the next “Boston bomber” could be among the refugees. Both of the terrorists who attacked the 2013 Boston Marathon entered the U.S. under the guise of asylum.

Prime Minister Turnbull told reporters Thursday that he won’t comment on the phone call.

“It’s better these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately. If you’ll see reports of them, I’m not going to add to them,” Turnbull said.

Trump tweeted after the reports came out that the Obama administration “agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia.”

“Why? I will study this dumb deal!” Trump wrote. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week that Trump would honor the pledge Obama made to take in the refugees, but that they would be subject to “extreme vetting.”

The U.S. Embassy in Canberra said Thursday that “President Trump’s decision to honor the refugee agreement has not changed and Spokesman’s Spicer’s comments stand. This was just reconfirmed to the State Department from the WH.”