Australian PM Turnbull feels heat from spiky Trump call

US President Donald Trump said his call with Australia's Malcolm Turnbull (right) was "the most  is unpleasant" of several made with world leaders a week after his inauguration.

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump fumed to Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull over refugee deal
  • US President told Turnbull call was 'most unpleasant' he'd had all day

(CNN)It should have been a good-natured exchange between the leaders of two firm allies. But a now-notorious phone call between US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has turned into a diplomatic headache for both sides.

A transcript, published by the Washington Post on Thursday, shows Trump and Turnbull battling over a refugee-swap deal made between the Obama administration and Australia. A frustrated Trump even said he had a more pleasant call earlier with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    The account also shows Turnbull almost begging Trump to take 1,250 to 2,000 refugees off Australia's hands, yet apparently suggesting that the deal didn't commit the US to taking any of them.
    Burned by the revelation of the transcript, Turnbull on Friday said he was merely "standing up" for Australia. The White House said it would not comment on the leak.
    The phone call was made just after Trump took office, and the US President was fuming at Turnbull over the deal, which contradicts his election promise to ban people arriving in the US from Muslim-majority nations and to suspend the country's intake of refugees. News reports had already suggested the call didn't go well.
    Turnbull is forced repeatedly to explain the details and significance of the deal to Trump, who says it will make him look like "a dope".
    Turnbull tried to reassure the rattled President that each refugee would be subject to US vetting, and that the US could refuse anyone it chose to.
    "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," Trump said.
    "This is a big deal," Turnbull responded. "It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want,"
    Towards the end of the call, Trump appeared to concede that he would stick to the deal, but he said he would tell the American people that "I hate it."
    "I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous," Trump said shortly before the call ended.
    No refugees have yet been transferred to the US under the deal.

    'Fake news' claim debunked

    Turnbull faced sharp criticism in Australia on Friday for telling Trump that he could refuse refugees.
    "It has always been subject to American vetting procedures. That's always been part of the arrangement," he told reporters.
    Turnbull also brushed off suggestions of a rift between the US and Australia, maintaining that the call was "frank" and "courteous."
    "As President Trump said we're both adults and I stand up for Australia's interests and he stands up for America's interest," Turnbull said.
    But the spiky call contradicts the two leaders' earlier accounts that the ca