When President Donald Trump spoke by phone Saturday, January 28, with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he was speaking (above) from the White House, before an audience of two aides, National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn and his top strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.
Trump's conversation with the leader of a major U.S. ally, was supposed to last an hour. Instead, Trump hung up after 25 minutes.
The Washington Post reported: "It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief -- a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America's staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week".
Instead, President Trump "blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win." The details of the call were leaked from "senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange."
Trump's diplomatic style is, to say the least, different. "At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day -- including Russian President Vladimir Putin -- and that 'this was the worst call by far.'"
Someone in the White House wanted this exchange made public. Bannon and Flynn were there to hear it live. It should be safe to assume they made it public. Trump's bellicosity is what they want the American public, and the world, to hear.
Trump also wants the world to know, through Twitter, how he feels about "refugees." His explosive conversation with the Australian Prime Minister involved what Trump, in a Tweet called, a "dumb" Obama-era "deal."
The Washington Post provides a different reading on the "deal":
"Last night, President Trump went off on Australia, criticizing a 'dumb' Obama-era 'deal' that would, in Trump's words, force the United States to take 'thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia.'
"Except that's not really what the deal says. Not at all.
"Trump is referring to a deal signed in November. According to the agreement, which took months of negotiation, America would accept about 1,200 refugees (not, as Trump called them, 'illegal immigrants') from Australia.
"The United States would prioritize families and children, and all candidates would be subjected to a thorough vetting process. America's Department of Homeland Security would conduct two rounds of interviews with each candidate."
The President is following an Islamophobic script, a theme of hatred and fear shared with his aides, Stephen K. Bannon and Michael T. Flynn, that contributed mightily to Trump's election victory. Australian Prime Minister Trumbull knows this. In a public statement he said he would not comment on the "domestic issues" of other nations.
In a January 30 editorial, entitled,"President Bannon?" the New York Times laments:
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