WASHINGTON ― Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Australia’s ambassador to the United States Thursday morning to do damage control after President Donald Trump’s disastrous recent call with the country’s prime minister.
McCain said he expressed his “unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance” in the call with Ambassador Joe Hockey.
“I asked Ambassador Hockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote,” the senator said in a statement.
The reason McCain felt it necessary to seemingly state the obvious ― that the United States and Australia are strong allies ― is that Trump reportedly berated Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a call Saturday.
Trump went after Turnbull for a refugee agreement, bragged about the size of his win in the 2016 election and hung up 25 minutes into what was supposed to be an hour-long call, according to The Washington Post. Trump also reportedly told Turnbull that their call was his “worst” by far that day. He had spoken with four other world leaders Wednesday, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The refugee pledge that Trump is so upset about was agreed upon during former President Barack Obama’s administration. It says that the United States agrees to take in as many as 1,250 refugees, many of whom are Muslim, who are in poorly maintained detention centers in Pacific island camps.
“I don’t want these people,” Trump reportedly told Turnbull, while more than once misstating the number of refugees in the agreement as 2,000 rather than 1,250.
Turnbull told Trump that the United States didn’t have to accept all 1,250 refugees, but that it would have to allow them to go through the normal vetting process. Trump said he would subject them to “extreme vetting.”
At the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning, Trump mentioned the “tough phone calls” he’s been having with world leaders.
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. They’re tough,” he said. “We have to be tough. It’s time we’re gonna be a little tough, folks. We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not gonna happen anymore.”
UPDATE: 4:50 p.m. ― Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), each said Thursday that they, too, had called Hockey to reaffirm the alliance between the United States and Australia.
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