President Trump had a testy conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday when the subject turned to a refugee agreement made by the Obama administration. In a call with Turnbull, Trump said he was unhappy with the agreement, which he termed “the worst deal ever.” He went on to accuse the Australian PM of trying to send “the next Boston bombers” to the United States.
White House sources said that Trump was so disgusted with the conversation he told Turnbull that, in a day that included calls to Vladimir Putin and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, his talk with the Australian leader was the “worst so far.”
The call was reportedly expected to last for an hour, but President Trump called it quits after just 25 minutes, rejecting Turnbull’s attempt to change the subject.
In a tweet on Thursday, Trump expressed his frustration with the situation.
“Do you believe it?” he wrote. “The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
The deal in question came as international human rights organizations condemned Australia for the government’s treatment of the refugees. Some 2,000 asylum-seekers, most of whom came from Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, have been stuck in processing centers located in Nauru and the Manus Islands, away from the Australian mainland.
Turnbull, who campaigned on a vow to stop refugees from resettling in Australia, has been looking for other countries who can host the stranded foreigners. No one expressed much interest until the Obama administration, at the behest of the United Nations, agreed to accept approximately 1,200 of them in November.
But Trump is not Obama, and he too campaigned on a vow to clamp down on refugees from the Middle East. One day after signing an executive order banning immigration from seven Arab countries – including the three at issue in this situation – he realized that he was now saddled with his predecessor’s bargain. While his Australian counterpart enjoys the political benefits of fulfilling his campaign promises, Trump is forced to fulfill the wishes of Barack Obama.
Such is the fate of a president who must correct a ship that the last guy nearly steered into an iceberg. It will take some time for Trump to get the country free of Obama’s bad judgement, but he’s well on his way to doing just that. In the meantime, let’s just be thankful that the next time Australia searches the world for a leader dumb enough to make a deal like this, they won’t find him in the White House.