President Donald Trump wrecked relations with yet another foreign leader on Wednesday, leaving Australia scrambling to save its refugee resettlement agreement with the U.S. after he lashed out at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a phone call.
Trump tweeted that the resettlement program, which would send 1,250 asylum seekers from detention sites in Australia to the U.S., was a “dumb deal” and told Turnbull in their private conversation that it was “the worst deal ever.”
He also told Turnbull that their conversation—one of several Trump had with foreign leaders—was his worst of the day, before abruptly ending the 25-minute call.
On Thursday Trump dismissed outraged reactions to the conversation, telling the audience at the National Prayer Breakfast not to “worry” about his antagonistic conversations with foreign leaders.
“The world is in trouble, but we’re gonna straighten it out, OK? That’s what I do, I fix things,” Trump said. “We’re gonna straighten it out. Believe me. When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it.”
In his tweet Wednesday, Trump also said he would “study” the deal, and referred to the asylum seekers as “illegal immigrants.”
Turnbull objected publicly, telling the Melbourne radio show 3AW that the president had given him a “clear commitment” that the program would continue.
But an Australian official close to the deal said, “It’s over. It can’t survive…It was never going to survive Trump’s immigration ban,” referring to the president’s executive order signed last week that blocks entry to the U.S. for immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Details of the call with Turnbull emerged just after the Associated Press published an excerpt of a conversation between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in which Trump spoke of sending troops across the border to take care of “bad hombres.”
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Peña Nieto, according to the transcript of the hour-long call that took place last Friday. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
The context did not make clear whom Trump considers “bad hombres,” the AP reported. That phone call came after Peña Nieto canceled a visit to meet with Trump, apparently in response to his hostile comments about making Mexico pay for a proposed border wall.
The White House on Thursday claimed that the comments were meant to be “lighthearted,” while the Mexican Foreign Relations Department told the AP that they “did not occur during said telephone call.”