5 highlights from Trump's calls with Mexican, Australian leaders

In his first days in office, President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE engaged in a pair of heated phone calls with Mexico's and Australia's leaders, berating them for what he deemed to be one-sided deals and urging them to make concessions to burnish his own political image.

Transcripts of the president's first phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were obtained by The Washington Post and published online Wednesday.

The transcripts, which were prepared by the White House, reveal a rocky start to Trump's relationship with the two key U.S. allies and confirm earlier reports that Trump sparred with Turnbull during their Jan. 28 phone call.

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 Here are some of the highlights:

 

Trump urged Peña Nieto to stop saying Mexico will not pay for a border wall

As a presidential candidate, Trump vowed to build a massive wall along the U.S.'s southern border — and to make Mexico pay for it.

But in his Jan. 27 call with Peña Nieto, Trump pressured the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would not pay for the structure.

"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," Trump said.

He also called the border wall "the least important thing" the two men were discussing, but acknowledged that the project was politically important for him. 

"Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important," he said. "But in terms of dollars — or pesos — it is the least important thing."

 

Trump offered to help Mexico deal with 'tough hombres' behind the drug trade

Trump told Peña Nieto that Mexico was floundering in its efforts to tackle the drug trade and said that the U.S. was willing to help take on the "tough hombres" smuggling drugs across the border. 

"You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with, and we are willing to help you with that big-league," he said. "But they have to be knocked out, and you have not done a good job of knocking them out."

Trump also described a drug addiction crisis in the U.S. fueled by narcotics being trafficked into the country from Mexico. His campaign promise to crack down on the drug trade, he said, is why he won states like New Hampshire.

"They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles and to New York. Up in New Hampshire — I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den — is coming from the southern border," Trump said.

 

Trump threatened to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico

Early in his call with Peña Nieto, Trump railed against the United States' trade deficit with Mexico and suggested that he could impose tariffs of up to 35 percent on Mexican goods.

"The powers of taxation are tremendous for the president of the United States, and if you study that you will see what I mean," he said. "That is why I did not want to have the meeting, I just wanted to tax the border.

"The thing I need you to understand is that right now we have a $60 billion trade deficit," Trump later added. "That is unsustainable. And do not feel lonely, because we are going to be having talks with China also."

 

Trump berated Australian PM over refugee agreement

Trump harangued Turnbull over a deal between the U.S. and Australia made under the Obama administration, in which the U.S. agreed to admit some 1,250 refugees — which Trump incorrectly cited as 2,000 — on the condition that they cleared security screenings.

For the Trump administration to uphold such a deal, the president said, would "look awfully bad" politically, because of his campaign promise to bar refugees from entering the U.S. 

"This is going to kill me," he said. "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."

Turnbull eventually tried to change the topic, asking Trump if he wanted to discuss Syria or North Korea. But the president continued to disparage the refugee deal, calling it "embarrassing" for him.

"It is an embarrassment to me, but at least I got you off the hook. So you put me back on the hook," he said.

 

Trump said his call with Turnbull was his 'most unpleasant'

Trump, incensed about the refugee agreement with Australia, told Turnbull that their conversation had been "the most unpleasant call all day," saying that his earlier call with Russian President Vladimir Putin had been better.

"I have had it. I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day," Trump said. "Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous."

Turnbull sought to reassure Trump that the U.S. could count on Australia as an ally, saying he would "be there again and again."

"I hope so," Trump replied. "Okay, thank you, Malcolm."