The Washington Post published full transcripts Thursday that were leaked to the newspaper of conversations President Trump had with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shortly after taking office in January.
Details from the conversations were first reported in early February, based on leaked information. Trump accused holdover “Obama people” of being responsible for the leaks at the time.
“It’s a disgrace that they leaked because it’s very much against our country,” Trump said. “It’s a very dangerous thing for this country.”
The concern is that the president must be able to have free exchanges with world leaders, without either party being concerned their frank conversations, sometimes dealing with classified information, will be made public.
Transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia - Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/australia-mexico-transcripts/?utm_term=.32eff36d7504 …
‘This deal will make me look terrible’: Full transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia
The Post has obtained transcripts of President Donald Trump’s talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in January.washingtonpost.com
Trump’s conversation with Pena Nieto focused mainly on who would pay for the border wall and the $60 billion trade deficit the United States has with Mexico.
“We find this completely unacceptable for Mexicans to pay for the wall that you are thinking of building,” Pena Nieto told Trump in late January. “I understand, Mr. President, the small political margin that you have now in terms of everything you said that you established throughout your campaign. But I would also like to make you understand, President Trump, the lack of margin I have as president of Mexico to accept this situation.”
Trump replied that the solution is simple: a trade tariff in the 10 or 15 percent range on the border to pay for the wall and also address the trade imbalance between the two nations.
“We have a country that has been led by people who have no business understanding. We are living off the success of the past — off the fat of the past — and we cannot continue to do this,” said Trump.
Trump went on to say the situation needs to be worked out and called on Pena Nieto to stop making public protestations to the press about who will pay for the wall.
“If we are going to have continued dialogue, we will work out the wall,” said Trump. “They [the press] are going to say, ‘Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘We will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.’”
“Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about,” Trump added. “But politically this might be the most important talk about. But in terms of dollars, or pesos, it is the least important thing. I know how to build very inexpensively, so it will be much lower than these numbers I am being presented with, and it will be a better wall and it will look nice. And it will do the job.”
“Mr. President, regarding who pays for the wall. This is what I suggest,” Pena Nieto responded. “Mr. President, let us stop talking about the wall. I have recognized the right of any government to protect its borders as it deems necessary and convenient. But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall.”
“Okay, Enrique,” Trump replied. “That is fine and I think it is fair. I do not bring up the wall but when the press brings up the wall, I will say, ‘Let us see how it is going. Let us see how it is working out with Mexico.’”
The two agreed that drug trafficking and violence at the border is a major issue that must be addressed.
Trump had a more contentious phone call with Australian Prime Minister Trumbull over a deal President Barack Obama made to take in up to 2,000 Middle Eastern refugees.
“This is a stupid deal,” said Trump. “This deal will make me look terrible.”
The president said the Democrats lost the election because of “stupid deals like this.”
“This is what I am trying to stop. I do not want to have more San Bernardino’s or World Trade Centers. I could name 30 others, but I do not have enough time,” Trump said.
“Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?” Trump asked Turnbull.
The prime minister assured him that Australia would take them in, but his nation has a strict policy of not allowing refugees into the country who arrive by boat, for fear it would unleash a torrent of those seeking asylum and human trafficking.
Turnbull said part of the deal was Australia taking people into its country the United States does not want, and the U.S. only has to take the refugees after fully vetting them.
“Every individual is subject to your vetting,” Turnbull stated. “You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process.”
Trump reiterated his distaste for the deal, particularly right after coming to office.
“I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer,” he said.
“You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it,” Turnbull replied.
“I have no choice to say that about it,” said Trump. “I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it.”
Trump concluded the conversation, “As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcolm. I have had it.”
“I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump added. “Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”