Second GOP senator phones Australian ambassador after Trump call

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called Australia’s ambassador on Thursday to reaffirm the alliance between the two countries amid reports of a tense call between President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the second GOP senator to call Ambassador Joe Hockey on Thursday. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he spoke with Hockey earlier in the day.

“I called Australia’s Ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance,” McCain said in a statement shortly after the call.

{mosads}The calls come in the wake of The Washington Post’s report that Trump had held a heated phone conversation with Turnbull on Saturday, in which the president boasted about the size of his Electoral College win and blasted a refugee agreement between the two countries.

As details of the call leaked Wednesday night, Trump tweeted that he’d revaluate the deal to resettle 1,250 refugees being detained in offshore Australian facilities in the U.S., calling the Obama-era agreement a “dumb deal.”

Trump, who had apparently spoken to several other foreign leaders on that same day, allegedly told the Australian prime minister that their conversation was “the worst call by far.” The conversation – the first between the two men since Trump took office – was supposed to last an hour, but was reportedly ended by the president after about 25 minutes.

The tense nature of the phone call was unusual because Australia is among the United States’ most steadfast allies. What is more, the account of the call was at odds with that of the White House, which described the call as a banal conversation about the “closeness of the U.S.-Australia relationship.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also reaffirmed on Thursday the importance of the alliance, though he did not telephone Hockey.

“I know Prime Minister Turnbull. He was in my office a couple months ago,” Ryan said during a news conference. “He is a very important ally. Australia is a very central ally. They are and will continue to be.”

Andn House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) weighed in on Trump’s tweet. 

“These are not words I would have used.  Australia is one of our closest allies, a critical partner in the fight against radical Islamist terrorism, and a source of freedom and stability in the increasingly volatile Asia-Pacific.”

Scott Wong contributed. 

Tags Australia Bob Corker John McCain Paul Ryan
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