When US President Donald Trump told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull he was “worse than I am” on immigration policy during their less than friendly telephone exchange in January, he meant it as a compliment.
The call made headlines back in January with many wondering just what was said between the two world leaders.
The Australian reported that last night, the Washington Post published transcripts of Trump’s chat with Turnbull as well as Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
During their talk, Trump expressed his irritation with the refugee-exchange deal made between Turnbull and former US President Barack Obama.
According to the transcript, Trump was under the impression that Australia would send its hardened criminals and terrorists to the US from Nauru and Manus Island because they were in “a prison”.
The US President seemed to have zero knowledge of Australia’s immigration policy, nor the reasons for the detentions on Nauru and Manus.
“What is the thing about boats, why do you discriminate about boats?” Trump asks Turnbull. “Why haven’t you let them out, why have you not let them into your society?”
Turnbull politely but firmly tries to push Trump to accept the refugee resettlement deal even though Trump inexplicably believes they will be come future terrorists.
“I do not want any more San Bernardino’s (terror attack) or World Trade Centres … I look so foolish doing this. I know it is good for you but it is bad for me,” Trump says.
“Malcolm, why is this so important, I do not understand. This is going to kill me.
“I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would never have made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America … this is the most unpleasant call all day.”
It is when Turnbull tries to explain how Australia does not resettle refugees who arrive by boat because of a policy aimed at discouraging human smuggling, that Trump tells him, “You’re worse than I am.”
Trump then tells Turnbull “I have had it” after the two disagreed about the refugee agreement.
Even though we are one of USA’s closet allies, Trump’s call with Turnbull did not go well.
“I hate taking these people,” Trump said of refugees.
“I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.”
Despite Turnbull trying to save the deal, Trump refuses to budge saying the refugees could “become the Boston bomber in five years”.
“I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country,” Trump says.
“And now I am agreeing to take 2000 people. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. As far as I am concerned, that is enough, Malcolm. I have had it.”
The call lasted just 24 minutes with Turnbull assuring Trump he could “count” on him.