Coming into the job of president with no other political experience, Donald Trump tends to speak with American allies in a different manner than his predecessors. Mexico and Australia have long stood as two of the United States’ staunchest allies. Recent transcripts acquired by the Washington Post help illuminate the relationship Trump has with these country’s leaders.
The first call is with former Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto. During the call, Trump both offered to help Mexico fight trade and also threatened new tariffs on Mexico. The conversation also turned to the border wall.
Trump told the Mexican president, “the United States has a trade deficit with Mexico of $60 billion. And the United States will not have those deficits anymore. We do not mind a small deficit, and we do not mind a little time to get there.” Pena Nieto seemed relatively receptive to closing the gap in trade with the United States. Mexico, The United State and Canada came to an agreement on the USMCA in early October.
While Trump did discuss the drug trade with Pena Nieto, the focus of the call came back to the border wall. Trump pleaded with Pena Nieto, “We cannot say that anymore because 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.” The Mexican President diplomatically asked to focus on other issues.
Trump’s call with Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was somewhat more contentious. The focus of the call was to discuss a previously agreed upon deal where the US would take in 2,000 Syrian refugees. Trump had recently enacted his travel ban and was worried about being embarrassed.
The US President told Turnbull, “And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people.” This was followed by a discussion where Turnbull attempted to explain the parameters of the in-place deal to Trump.
Turnbull eventually told the president, “Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us – that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.” The call ended tersely and abruptly.