Donald Trump has called the proposed U.S-Australia refugee swap a "dumb deal", just hours after it was revealed he eviscerated Malcolm Turnbull in a bizarre phone call where he accused the Prime Minister of trying to send the "next Boston bombers".
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
Trump's tweet came not long after an explosive report in The Washington Post which claimed Trump cut short the phone call -- meant to be an hour long -- after just 25 minutes. It was reported Trump said "this was the worst call by far" out of the conversations he had had with other world leaders, and yelled at Turnbull.
"This was the worst call by far:" Trump brags, badgers and then abruptly ends call with Australia's prime minister https://t.co/fLVcOrpcol— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 2, 2017
"This is the worst deal ever," Trump reportedly said of the planned refugee deal where Australia would take an as-yet-unknown number of Central American refugees in exchange for up to 1250 refugees in Australian facilities on Nauru and Manus Island. That deal has been placed in doubt in recent days with White House sources saying Trump was "still considering" the arrangement.
The Washington Post article quotes Trump saying "I don't want these people," in relation to the refugees Australia would send to the U.S. as part of the deal. Trump reportedly said the refugees may include the "next Boston bombers".
Turnbull was asked about the report on Thursday, at a press conference just minutes after the report was released. He declined to provide further information around the phone call and continued with his claims the refugee deal was still on.
"I'm not going to comment on the conversation, during the course of the conversation as you know and it was confirmed by the President's official spokesman, the President assured me that he would honour the agreement we entered into with the Obama Administration with respect to refugee resettlement," Turnbull said.
"I'm not going to comment on a conversation between myself and the President of the United States other than what we have said publicly. You can surely understand the reasons for that. I appreciate your interest, but it's better that these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately. If you see reports of them, I'm not going to add to them."
Many refugees on Nauru and Manus are from the Middle East, and combined with Trump's previously announced plans to restrict Muslim immigration to America, there were fears the deal was in doubt under the new administration.
On Wednesday, Spicer said the deal would include 1250 people, "mostly in Papua New Guinea". Many of those refugees on Manus Island are from Iran, one of the countries included in Trump's travel ban. Spicer implied those people would still be considered, albeit subject to the administration's "extreme vetting" procedures.
"There will be extreme vetting applied to all of them, that is part and parcel of the deal that was made and it was made by the Obama administration with the full backing of the United States Government," Spicer said in response to a question from Australia's ABC.
"The President, in accordance with that deal to honour what had been agreed upon by the United States Government and ensuring that vetting will take place in the same manner we are doing it now will go forward."
More to come.