At one point Trump tells Turnbull “you’re worse than I am” before ending the call saying “I have had it”.
He repeatedly claims he will get “killed” over the deal which he says undermines the principles of his Executive Order. Turnbull presses him to hold firm to his commitment and appears to suggest the US could refuse to take any refugees through its vetting process.
The transcript also shows Trump saying he had a “pleasant call” with Russian President Vladimir Putin. However on Thursday he said the US relationship with Russia had reached an “all-time and very dangerous low”.
The January 28th call — which lasted 24 minutes and took place eight days after Trump’s inauguration — began well enough, with Turnbull congratulating Trump and trying to build a rapport through their business background.
“I believe you and I have similar backgrounds, unusual for politicians, more businessman but I look forward to working together,” Turnbull tells him.
Trump agrees and said it’s a “crazy climate” in which he intends to bring the fight to the Islamic State.
“Let me tell you this, it is an evil time but it is a complex time because we do not have uniforms standing in front of us. Instead, we have people in disguise. It is brutal. This ISIS thing — it is something we are going to devote a lot of energy to it. I think we are going to be very successful,” he said.
However, talk quickly turns to the refugee deal signed by the Obama administration with Trump saying he had been told “close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome” would be coming to the US.
“And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground,” Trump said.
“I have to say I love Australia; I love the people of Australia. I have so many friends from Australia, but I said — geez that is a big ask, especially in light of the fact that we are so heavily in favour, not in favour, but we have no choice but to stop things. We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino’s, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing.”
Turnbull asks Trump to “hear him out” and said “I think we should respect deals”. He explains how the deal could be “absolutely consistent with your executive order” and that the US would be able to vet the “basically economic refugees” under it.
“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them,” Turnbull said about people held in detention on Manus Island and Nauru.
When Trump asked “why have you not let them into your society?” Turnbull said not because they are “bad people” but because the governments want to stop people smugglers.
“That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am,” Trump said in apparent admiration for Turnbull’s blanket.
Talk turns to Angela Merkel’s decision to let “one million Syrians walk” into Germany which Turnbull says was “one of the big factors in the Brexit vote”. He again pleads with Trump to hold up his end of the bargain.
“This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want.....I do believe that you will never find a better friend to the United States than Australia.”
‘YOU BROKE MANY A STUPID DEAL’
Trump presses Turnbull on the reasons behind it asking why it is so important.
“I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week,” Trump said.
“I will say I hate it. Look, I spoke to Putin, Merkel, Abe of Japan, to France today, and this was my most unpleasant call because I will be honest with you. I hate taking these people. 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.”
Turnbull replied: “There is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal. Look, you and I have a lot of mutual friends.”
However Trump rails against this and said “stupid deals” are the reason the Democrats lost the election.
“You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible,” Trump said.
“I am not like this but, if I have to do it, I will do it but I do not like this at all. I will be honest with you. Not even a little bit. I think it is ridiculous and Obama should have never signed it. The only reason I will take them is because I have to honour a deal signed by my predecessor and it was a rotten deal. I say that it was a stupid deal like all the other deals that this country signed.”
Trump then seems to register what Turnbull has been saying: “Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?” he asks.
“That is the point I have been trying to make,” Turnbull said in response.
He explains the refugees are “not in the league” of World Trade Centre or “San Bernardino” and then promises in exchange “we will take anyone that you want us to take.”
“The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point,” Turnbull said.
Finally, Trump begrudgingly agreed to uphold the deal, saying he would be “killed” in his first week on the job.
“I am going to say that I have no choice but to honour my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]. I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”
“You can count on me. I will be there again and again,” Turnbull replies.
“I hope so. Okay, thank you Malcolm,” Trump said.
Trump then took to Twitter for his notorious tweet, saying he would “study the dumb deal”.
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!