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Trump Sparred with Mexican, Australian Leaders in Contentious Phone Calls

  • Ken Bredemeier

FILE - President Donald Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G20 Summit, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg.

U.S. President Donald Trump sparred with the leaders of Mexico and Australia in contentious phone calls shortly after he assumed power in January, newly leaked transcripts show.

According to the documents, Trump demanded that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto stop saying that Mexico would not pay for a wall that Trump wants built along the U.S.-Mexico border to thwart illegal immigration into the United States. During his months-long run for the White House, Trump vowed that he would make Mexico foot the bill.

FILE - A group of activists paints the U.S.-Mexico border wall between Ciudad Juarez and New Mexico as a symbol of protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's new immigration reform in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 26, 2017. The paint reads "We are workers."
FILE - A group of activists paints the U.S.-Mexico border wall between Ciudad Juarez and New Mexico as a symbol of protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's new immigration reform in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 26, 2017. The paint reads "We are workers."

In a transcript of the January 27 call, published Thursday by The Washington Post, Trump told Peña Nieto, “If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

At one point, Trump said, “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”

But Peña Nieto resisted, saying, "My position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall.”

Trump objected: “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”

In the end, Peña Nieto said that Trump's wall proposal “is an issue related to the dignity of Mexico and goes to the national pride of my country,” but agreed to “stop talking about the wall.”

Trump said recently that he still "absolutely" intends to try to make Mexico pay for the $21 billion wall, but in the meantime has asked Congress for funds to start construction. The fate of the proposal, however, is uncertain, with Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans opposed to it.

Discussion with Australian PM

In another even more acrimonious call in January, Trump, who has moved quickly to curb immigration into the U.S., erupted at Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as they discussed a deal former U.S. President Barack Obama made with Australia to accept 1,250 refugees into the U.S.

FILE - President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands during their meeting aboard the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked in the Hudson River in New York, May 4, 2017.
FILE - President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands during their meeting aboard the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked in the Hudson River in New York, May 4, 2017.

“This is going to kill me,” Trump told Turnbull. “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.”

As they argued about the refugee plan, Trump told the Australian leader, "I have had it. I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

Before the call ended abruptly, Trump told Turnbull that at least one of his calls to world leaders had gone better. “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. “This is ridiculous.”

The White House has not commented about the transcripts. Trump has since met with both Peña Nieto and Turnbull at world gatherings and had seemingly less contentious conversations with the two U.S. allies.

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