Trump Slams Obama’s “Dumb” Australia Immigrant Deal

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It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief – a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Donald Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the exchange.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day – including Russian President Vladimir Putin – and that “this was the worst call by far.”

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

Trump’s 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 official readout of his conversation with Turnbull said that the two had “emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the U.S.-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.”

A senior administration official acknowledged that the conversation with Turnbull had been hostile and charged, but emphasized that most of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders – including the heads of Japan, Germany, France and Russia – have been productive and pleasant.

The friction with Turnbull reflected Trump’s anger over being bound by an agreement reached by the Obama administration to accept refugees from Australian detention sites even while Trump was issuing an executive order suspending such arrivals from elsewhere in the world.

The issue centers on a population of about 2,500 people who sought asylum in Australia but were diverted to facilities off that country’s coast at Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Deplorable conditions at those sites prompted intervention from the United Nations and a pledge from the United States to accept about half of those refugees, provided they passed U.S. security screening.

Many of the refugees came from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, countries listed in Trump’s order temporarily barring their citizens from entry to the United States. A special provision in the Trump order allows for exceptions to honor “a preexisting international agreement,” a line that was inserted to cover the Australia deal.

But U.S. officials said that Trump continued to fume about the arrangement even after signing the order in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

“I don’t want these people,” Trump said. He told Turnbull that it was “my intention” to honor the agreement, a phrase designed to leave the U.S. president wiggle room to back out of the deal in the future, according to a senior U.S. official.

Before Trump tweeted about the agreement Wednesday night, the U.S. Embassy in Canberra had assured Australian reporters that the new administration intended to take the refugees.

“President Trump’s decision to honour the refugee agreement has not changed,” an embassy spokesman had told the reporters, according to an official in the Sydney consulate. “This was just reconfirmed to the State Department from the White House and on to this embassy at 1315 Canberra time.”

During the phone conversation this past weekend, Turnbull told Trump that to honor the agreement, the United States would not have to accept all of the refugees but only to allow each through the normal vetting procedures. At that, Trump vowed to subject each refugee to “extreme vetting,” the senior U.S. official said.

Trump was also skeptical because he did not see a specific advantage the United States would gain by honoring the deal, officials said.

Australia is seen as such a trusted ally that it is one of only four countries that the United States includes in the “Five Eyes” arrangement for cooperation on espionage matters. Members share extensively what their intelligence services gather and generally refrain from spying on one another. There also is a significant amount of tourism between the two countries.

Trump made the call to Turnbull about 5 p.m. Saturday from his desk in the Oval Office, where he was joined by chief strategist Stephen Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn and White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Greg Miller, Philip Rucker 



  1. Finally the door is open to all the ridiculous & harmful decisions made by Obama to destroy & demolish the American way of life.

  2. The idea was those people could be shipped someplace in nowhereland in the northamerican continent or other U.S. controlled land, while their papers are checked and while it’s being decided whether they should be given a visa, sent back to their country of origin, or possibly deported to a third country (e.g. for multiple passport holders). The problem in Australia is that the detention centers designed for the people whose status is under consideration are outside the Australian borders (they signed agreements with neighbouring countries) but in practice the allotted land plots are too small and they can not be cheaply enlarged since they are on islands. Sure, Australia could and perhaps should build a few new ones in the outback. Maybe they are nervous about their former status in the empire.

  3. Why doesn’t Australia accept those people , if they are not a security concern? We should NOT accept their refugee problems!!

    • They are foreign citizens who have applied to be recognized as refugees and whose status is being determined, which is the very reason they are being detained.

  4. Is it really smart to take such a combative approach to (arguably) our staunchest ally in the world? Should the President of the U.S. really be so quick to go into “Beast Mode” ™ instead of a more measured, cool-headed approach to a minor disagreement?

  5. Torah is truth,

    What does this have to do with Torah? Our president is bullying other leaders, tweeting in an immature and disrespectful fashion, reneging on deals our democratically elected leader made, and alienating and embarrassing allies. Not to mention that how can Jews support blocking refugees from certain countries? We weren’t too thrilled that they didn’t accept more refugees from Germany in WWII.

    Our community’s inability to see how supporting this can badly affect us, and how we have so much faith in the new Messiah Trump having nothing to do with HaShem is extremely disturbing.

    • Dear Yossi, does a term “Useful Idiot” ring a bell, or are you fully aware what would importing islamonazis do to our community? Bet you are angry now that your fake messiah President Hussein is unemployed. Would you like a tissue for your tears? Oh, and please don’t you dare to connect WW2 Jewish refugees and the islamonazi infiltrators; WW2 Jewish refugees did not commit acts of terrorism, islamonazis do.

  6. In Papua New Guinea, it is considered very rude and disrespectful to make eye contact when talking to someone.
    Also, people are very superstitious, regional and tribal conflicts tend to get out of hand, and if you are involved in any accident (even if it’s not at all your fault), you must immediately drive to the nearest police station because Papua New Guineans are likely to retaliate right then and there (again, even if it’s not your fault). This is true even if it’s only a pig or chicken that got hit, and not a person.
    It is also one of the last places in the world that has a cannibal problem.
    AIDS/HIV is also extremely prevalent.

    But hey, I’m sure Obama made sure to screen for all that before he agreed to let in 1250 of them.

    (Just make sure you never look ’em in the eye!)

    (Oh, and when they’re out driving recklessly, just make sure it’s YOU who get’s hurt and not them – or their chicken – or else you might be sorry.)

  7. This Aussie has nothing better to discuss with the most powerful man on this planet?
    He didn’t think he could bully Trump, did he?


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