Society

GOP Leaders Reassure Australia After Trump Phone Call

| by Robert Fowler

Following President Donald Trump's reportedly heated phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, high-ranking Republican lawmakers have issued reassurances that the U.S. remains a staunch ally of the Pacific nation.

On Feb. 2, House Speaker Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin asserted that Australia will continue to be one of America's closest allies and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona personally spoke with Australia's ambassador to the U.S.

"I don't think Australia should be worried about its relationship with our new president, or with our country, for that matter," Ryan said, according to The Washington Post. "Australia is a very important and central ally. It's going to continue to be."

Australia is among the United States' closest allies, having participated in numerous military campaigns with America. On Feb. 1, the relationship between the two countries was thrown off balance after Trump reportedly hung up on Turnbull during a diplomatic call.

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The discussion between the two world leaders went sour after Turnbull reminded Trump of an agreement struck between the Obama administration to accept 1,250 refugees currently held in an Australian detention center. Trump reportedly became upset that some of the refugees were from nations that he had just prohibited from U.S. entry through executive order.

Turnbull suggested that if the U.S. could simply vet the refugees, they would still meet their obligation to Australia if they did not accept them into America. Trump cut off the call early, telling Turnbull that out of all the diplomatic calls he had had that day, "this was the worst call by far."

The president reportedly spent a sizable portion of his call with Turnbull to brag about his Electoral College victory and the size of his inauguration crowd.

Shortly after reports of the phone call emerged, Trump took to social media.

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"Can you believe it?" Trump tweeted out. "The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal."

The 1,250 people that Trump was referring to are refugees, not undocumented immigrants.

In addition to Ryan's statement on the U.S.-Australian alliance, McCain disclosed that he had personally called the Australian ambassador Joe Hockey to give his assurances.

"I asked Ambassador Jockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote," McCain said.

On Feb. 2, Turnbull stated during an interview on an Australian radio program that he would not discuss his phone conversation with Trump.

"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 CNN.

The prime minister added: "It's better these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately."

Sources: CNNThe Washington Post (2) / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr