President Donald Trump on Friday thanked Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for “telling the truth” after news swirled that the two men had clashed during a phone call last weekend that abruptly ended when Trump reportedly hung up the phone.
“Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
Trump’s conversation with Turnbull last Saturday became a headline this week when The Washington Post reported details from that call. In it, Trump called a refugee agreement reached between Australia and the administration of former President Barack Obama “the worst deal ever” and that one of the individuals the U.S. agreed to take under the deal could be the “next Boston bombers.”
The president also reportedly told Turnbull that their conversation was “the worst call by far” of all that he had had with foreign leaders.
But Turnbull disputed some of that reporting, telling a radio interviewer in Australia that Trump did not hang up on him and that their phone call ended “courteously.” Beyond that, Turnbull has declined to share specifics of their conversation.
“Look, 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, and you can surely understand the reasons for that,” Turnbull said, according to a CNN report. “I’m sure you can understand that. It’s better these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately. If you’ll see reports of them, I’m not going to add to them.”
The deal in question is one in which the U.S. would accept over 1,000 refugees currently held in Australian detention centers on islands in the Pacific Ocean. In a post to Twitter on Wednesday, Trump pledged to “study this dumb deal,” and while he has been clear that he would not have agreed to it, the president has also not said that the U.S. will not honor the agreement made by his predecessor.
“He’s been very critical of the deal that President Obama did,” Turnbull said in a radio interview in Australia that was picked up by the Associated Press. “He clearly wouldn’t have done it himself, but we persuaded him to stick with it nonetheless. That was the outcome that we wanted to achieve and that’s what I’ve achieved.”