WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump called himself “the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country” and said he “hates taking” refugees during a call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in January, according to transcripts posted Thursday by The Washington Post.
“I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad,” Trump said, according to the transcript. “That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.”
The call took place on Jan. 28, soon after Trump was sworn in as president and signed an executive order to temporarily block all refugees and some foreign visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries (a later executive order amended it to six countries). The Washington Post reported in early February that Trump abruptly ended the call with Turnbull after railing against a deal for the U.S. to accept refugees who were stuck in detention camps because of Australian law, but the full transcript was not revealed until Thursday.
It shows Trump misunderstands the refugee issue in Australia and views people who fled their countries as exclusively “bad” ― potential terrorists who were detained because they aren’t good people, not because of the country’s laws.
We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world. President Donald Trump
The U.S. agreed under President Barack Obama to accept refugees from Australia who are currently detained off Australia’s mainland on Nauru and Manus islands because the country requires detention of people who show up via boat seeking asylum, which led Trump to ask why they “discriminate against boats.”
Trump previously referred to refugees detained in Australia as “illegal immigrants,” which is inaccurate. The Australian government has determined 80 percent of those detained on Nauru have a valid refugee claim.
Turnbull emphasized to Trump that the refugees Australia has asked the U.S. to admit aren’t bad people.
″[T]he only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat,” he said, according to the transcript. “Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.”
Turnbull added they would not let even a Nobel Prize-winner or “the best person in the world” if they arrive by boat.
“That is a good idea,” Trump said. “We should do that too. You are worse than I am.”
Turnbull also had to correct Trump on the basic facts of the deal, which was for the U.S. to admit 1,250 refugees after vetting them. The president repeatedly said the plan was for the U.S. to admit 2,000 refugees, and when Turnbull tried to correct him, said he had “heard like 5,000 as well.”
Trump said the refugees could turn out to be the next Boston Marathon bombers, who were not refugees. As Turnbull noted, they also were not from any of the countries where the refugees involved in this deal come from.
“We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world,” Trump said. “I have been here for a period of time, I just want this to stop. I look so foolish doing this. It [sic] know it is good for you but it is bad for me. It is horrible for me.”
Despite the tense conversation, Turnball insisted that and Trump have a “warm relationship.”
“We’re both adults,” he said. “I stand up for Australia’s interests, he stands up for America’s interests.”