The Washington Post has obtained transcripts of President Trump’s calls with leaders from Australia and Mexico. The calls, placed on January 27-28, reveal an uglier side of the commander-in-chief.
Far from a diplomat, Trump appears inexperienced, if not naïve, about the difficulties in moving foreign policy forward. Ultimately, the president seems to be more concerned about appearances than substance. Through and through, Trump is a media man, and these phone calls show just how much Trump obsesses over the public relations aspect of politics rather than the policy-end.
According to the Post, “The transcripts [of the calls] were based on records kept by White House notetakers who monitored Trump’s calls. Known as a ‘memorandum of conversation,’ such documents are commonly circulated to White House staff and senior policymakers.”
The Post adds that the documents were "reviewed and classified by retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg Jr., who serves as chief of staff on the National Security Council.”
Excerpts from the phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were published earlier this year but now the Post has obtained transcripts in their entirety.
Here are the eight worst things from Trump’s Australia and Mexico calls:
1. Trump demanded that Mexico’s president avoid stating that Mexico won’t pay for the wall, in public at least. “You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said over and over again, according to the transcript. “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”
2. Trump insisted that Peña Nieto should just tell the press that funding for the wall will “just work out” without actually figuring out a way to work it out.
“We should both say, ‘We will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump stated. “As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay,’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.’”
3. Trump framed the prospect of the wall as a “political problem” for both himself and Peña Nieto. “On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Trump admitted. “My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”
4. Trump appeared desperate to make Mexico pay for the wall because if it didn’t it would make him personally look bad. “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to,” he insisted. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”
5. Trump threatened the Mexican leader with excommunication but made sure to add that they would always be friends: “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.”
In the same conversation Trump also said: “you and I will always be friends.”
“We will almost become the fathers of our country — almost, not quite, okay? If the two of us can solve our political differences," he stated.
6. Trump described the wall as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.”
7. Trump called his January 28 phone call with Australian PM Turnbull “the most unpleasant call all day.”
8. Trump told Turnbull his phone call with the de facto dictator of Russia was far more easy-going. “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump stated. “This is ridiculous.”