On February 2nd The Washington Post reported that Trump "badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader" and after talking to several other world leaders said it "the worst call by far."
Trump fumed that taking in 1,250 refugees was the worst deal ever after President Obama had made a pledge to take them in.
Well, we finally have the transcript of the call and it's far worse than you could imagine. Or, maybe you could.
I'm not saying he sounded like a senile old man who doesn't have the wherewithal to follow a basic conversation, but then again...
It's like a political version of "Who's on First," only Trump isn't in on the joke.
Jonathan Chait does a good job of unpacking the phone call transcript:
"Australia has a policy of refusing to accept refugees who arrive by boat. The reason, as Turnbull patiently attempts to explain several times, is that it believes giving refuge to people who arrive by boat would encourage smuggling and create unsafe passage with a high risk of deaths at sea. But it had a large number of refugees who had arrived by sea, living in difficult conditions, whom Australia would not resettle (for fear of encouraging more boat trafficking) but whom it did not want to deport, either. The United States government agreed under President Obama to vet 1,250 of these refugees and accept as many of them as it deemed safe."
He continues, "In the transcript, Trump is unable to absorb any of these facts. He calls the refugees “prisoners,” and repeatedly brings up the Cuban boatlift (in which Castro dumped criminals onto Florida). He is unable to absorb Turnbull’s explanation that they are economic refugees, not from conflict zones, and that the United States has the ability to turn away any of them it deems dangerous."
Trump: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?
Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —
At this point, Trump fails to understand the policy altogether, and proceeds to congratulate Turnbull for what Trump mistakes to be a draconian policy of total exclusion:
Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am … Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries.
Trump has completely failed to understand either that the refugees are not considered dangerous, or, again, that they are being held because of a categorical ban on ship-based refugee traffic.
He also fails to understand the number of refugees in the agreement:
Trump: I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.
Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.
Trump: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.
Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting.
Then Trump returns to his belief that they are bad, and failing to understand the concept that they have been detained merely because they arrived by sea and not because they committed a crime:
Trump: I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. 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.
Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —
Trump: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison.
He still thinks they’re criminals.
Later, Trump asks what happens if all the refugees fail his vetting process:
Trump: I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?
Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.
After several attempts by Turnbull to explain Australia’s policy, Trump again expresses his total inability to understand what it is:
Trump: 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?
Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.
Trump: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?
After Turnbull has told Trump several times that the refugees have been detained because they arrived by boat, and only for that reason, Trump’s question is, “But they are arrived on a boat?”
Soon after, Turnbull again reiterates that Australia’s policy is to detain any refugee who arrives by boat:
Turnbull: The only people that we do not take are people who come by boa. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.”
Trump: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.
No, you don’t get it at all! It’s not that they come from certain regions! It’s that they come by boat!
So Turnbull very patiently tries to explain again that the policy has nothing to do with what region the refugees come from:
Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea.
If you add a laugh track you have something that Comedy Central might run.
Update: Lawrence O'Donnell had some things to say about this pathetic transcript too. The video is at the top, but the standout quotes to me was at the end, where Trump whines that he looks like a "dope."
He doesn't look like one. He IS one.
Rough transcript below:
Turnbull had to explain that to Donald Trump over and over again. Australia in turn had to agree. And in re agreement with the Obama administration to take in some refugees the United States didn't want to accept here.
Donald Trump said, "This is going to kill me. I am the world's greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2000 people. And I agree I can vet them but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad.
I hate taking the people. I guarantee you they are bad. 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.
For all other English speakers local milk people are dairy farmers or dairy and the refugees were not in prison.
The prime minister explained that. And he said I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows you are committed.
And President Trump cut him off before he could finish that sentence and said, "Okay, this shows me to be a dope."