United States President Donald Trump hung up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a tense call about the Australia-US refugee swap, according to one of America’s most influential news outlets.
The Washington Post has reported – citing US officials briefed on the phone call – that Mr Trump told Mr Turnbull the agreement he struck with the Obama administration was “the worst deal ever”, and that by agreeing to it, Mr Trump was “going to get killed” politically.
Mr Trump also allegedly accused Mr Turnbull and Australia of seeking to send “the next Boston bombers” to the US in the deal, which allows for the US to take a reported 1250 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island.
Sources also told the paper the conversation was meant to last an hour but was ended abruptly by Mr Trump after just 25 minutes.
The President left no doubt about his view in an inflammatory tweet 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
Despite the US reports, Mr Turnbull said in an interview with 3AW radio station on Thursday that the call had ended “courteously”.
“The report that the president hung up on me is incorrect,” he said.
But Mr Turnbull later hinted that his dealings with Mr Trump may have been more animated than usual.
“We have had frank and forthright discussions in which each of us has expressed our views …” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Trump also told Mr Turnbull he had spoken to four other world leaders during that day and that “this was the worst call by far”, according to The Washington Post report.
Mr Trump reportedly said “I don’t want these people” but then also said it was “my intention” to honour the deal.
Meantime, the White House has confirmed via an official statement that the president was still deciding on allowing the deal.
Earlier, the White House had confirmed Mr Trump had not yet decided whether to honour the agreement to take refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres.
Mr Turnbull repeatedly refused to be drawn on the issue during a press conference in Melbourne Thursday afternoon.
Mr Turnbull also denied the conversation had dented US-Australia relations.
On Thursday, the White House press office sent a written statement to the ABC in relation to the status of the deal.
“The President is still considering whether or not he will move forward with this deal at this time,” the statement read.
“He is considering doing it because of the long and good relationship we have with Australia.”
The statement mirrored comments made in a phone call to the ABC from a senior White House official on Wednesday.
Michael Anton, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, also confirmed to the ABC and others that the President is still evaluating the agreement.
On Wednesday, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in Washington the deal would go ahead, subject to the “extreme vetting” of about1250 refugees.
Those comments were subsequently modified, but Australian officials said the Trump administration had already told officials to ramp up arrangements needed to get the process underway.
Mr Turnbull said Mr Trump gave him a personal assurance during a phone call on the weekend that the deal would be honoured.
Meanwhile Americans are reacting to reports of the strained relations, using social media to apologise to Australians.
Mr Trump’s tweet over the “dumb deal” provoked a flurry of replies where Americans distanced themselves from his actions.
Trump's foreign policy is sort of like a kindergarten bully protecting his sandbox. Never been more ashamed of a president. Sorry #Australia
— Steven Johnson (@StevenJohnson82) February 2, 2017
— Shoeshinegirl (@Shoeshinegirl57) February 2, 2017
Trump's on a rampage. Expect Hugh Jackman and the Hemsworth brothers to be deported any day now. Sorry Australia.
— The West Wing (@thewestwingTV) February 2, 2017
@SkyNewsAust Speaking for most Americans here: So sorry. We love Australia. Trump is crazy.
— Leah (@leahwhct) February 2, 2017
— is_today_the_day (@trump_at_school) February 2, 2017
– with ABC