President Trump told the American people there is no reason for concern about his contentious and at times hostile calls with foreign leaders such as the Australian prime minister, saying these dangerous times demand a U.S. president who will be "tough" — even with steadfast allies.
"Believe me, when you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it," Trump said Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. "Just don't worry about it. They're tough. We have to be tough. It's time we're going to be a little tough, folks. We're taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It's not going to happen anymore."
Trump's comments came after a report in The Washington Post detailing his conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull threatened to ignite a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Australia, which have been close partners on defense, intelligence and trade for more than half a century.
Trump berated Turnbull on Saturday over a refugee agreement, brokered during the presidency of Barack Obama, for the United States admit about 1,250 refugees who tried to reach Australia by boat and are now being held in camps on the Pacific island of Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, according to senior U.S. officials.
On a day in which Trump spoke with five foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, he told Turnbull, "This was the worst call by far," the officials said. About 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.
In his prayer breakfast remarks, Trump said: “The world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways. And I’ve never seen it so much and so openly as since I took the position as president. The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out, okay? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out."