It seems like no one really knows how the conversation between President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull went. Trump took to Twitter this morning to dispute claims he hung up on Turnbull.
Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2017
Turnbull has been a little hesitant to reveal how the discussion went, or if he and Trump got into it over refugee resettlement. Via News.com.au.
Mr Turnbull has continued to refuse to comment on his phone call with Trump or his thoughts on the President.
Speaking to John Laws on 2SM radio, the Prime Minister simple said: “He’s clearly a big personality”.
“I note that his official spokesman described the conversation as a cordial one this morning,” Mr Turnbull said.
“I can say that it was very frank, it was forthright.
“I always make my case as persuasively as I can, I stand up for Australia, I stand up for our interests.
“It’s obviously a deal he wouldn’t have done, he’s expressed his views about it, but he has committed to doing it.
“From my point of view … we secured the commitment from the US President that we wanted and that we sought and we thank him for making that commitment.”
One thing which should be pointed out is Turnbull denies Trump hung up on him. This makes sense because the U.S. and Australia are key allies, and Turnbull probably doesn’t want to see the boat rocked any more than it already has. But Australia’s ABC News (which is a completely different entity than American’s ABC, and not owned by Disney) reported there is some truth to the rumors the Trump/Turnbull talk didn’t go so well.
The ABC has spoken to senior Australian Government sources who say The Washington Post report is “substantially accurate”.
Australian officials say the conversation was “robust” and “shorter than expected”, while one minister has told the ABC that “Trump hates this deal”.
It’s probably true Trump and Turnbull disagreed on policy, specifically the refugee agreement (Trump did tweet his anger on it earlier this week). I could see Trump hanging up on Turnbull, but unless someone leaks audio of the conversation, there’s no way to explicitly prove it (and ABC News says Trump didn’t hang up on Turnbull).
Then there’s the question of how the conversation was leaked in the first place. The Washington Post said Trump, Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer, and Steve Bannon were in the Oval Office at the time of the call. Why would any of them want the information leaked to the press? Turnbull’s folks have said Australia wasn’t the leak, so it’d have to be someone in the White House.
But the why still remains. Are there people trying to undermine Trump, and whip everyone into an uproar? Is someone in Trump’s inner circle trying to make it seem like Trump is a bit of a rogue, so he’ll calm down a bit? Could the leaks really be misinformation to discredit the press, and help Trump set up his own network of some kind (whether it’s an official Trump News Network or just what the White House already has set up)? Or is the press truly just making up stuff? These are only theories and I’m NOT suggesting any of these are true (especially the last two), but those are the only ones which make sense.
Until the audio is released, no one will really know what happened, except Trump and Turnbull.