Vice President Mike Pence has asserted that President Donald Trump has been candid but respectful in his discussions with world leaders. Pence's remarks come after recent reports that Trump had heated phone conversations with both Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
On Feb. 2, Pence commended Trump for his forthright speaking style, asserting that world leaders are just now becoming acquainted with the president's bluntness.
"I think the American people have a president that is candid with them and candid with the world and his conversations with world leaders reflect a respectfulness but a seriousness and directness that the people of this country are already used to coming from President Donald Trump," Pence told Fox News.
Pence added: "And the rest of the world ... is discovering that."
On Jan. 28, Trump cut a phone call with Turnbull short after reportedly becoming irritated. Turnbull had asked Trump if he would honor an agreement struck by the Obama administration to accept 1,250 refugees currently being held in Australia, The Washington Post reports.
The phone call came a day after Trump signed an executive order temporarily prohibiting U.S. admission of refugees. Trump reportedly told Turnbull that honoring the agreement would damage his political credibility and hung up on him, informing the prime minister that out of all of his conversations with world leaders that day, "this was the worst call by far."
Trump had also reportedly had a very heated phone conversation with Pena Nieto, with transcripts of the call indicating that the president had threatened to send the U.S. military into Mexico. That characterization of the call has been disputed by Pena Nieto's spokesman Eduardo Sanchez, who asserted that the phone call was more constructive than hostile, AP reports.
In Pence's view, Trump's approach to speaking with world leaders merely reflects his authenticity.
"He's speaking as the way he always does, respectfully, firmly, directly and I think the world welcomes him," Pence concluded.
Earlier on Feb. 2, Trump addressed the controversy over his reportedly aggressive phone calls with American allies.
"When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it," Trump said during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, according to CNN. "Just don't worry about it. They're tough. We have to be tough. It's time we're going to be a little tough, folks."