Trump would rather shoot the breeze with the Russian despot than with the prime minister of Australia, one of America's closest allies.
Donald Trump caused a controversy early in his presidency when he hung up the phone on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in a massive affront to diplomatic norms.
On Thursday, the Washington Post obtained a transcript of Trump's phone call with Turnbull. And it turns out the affair was even more disturbing than it first appeared. Trump ended the conversation by telling Turnbull that Russian President Vladimir Putin was more "pleasant."
The point of contention was that Turnbull tried to explain to Trump the basic elements of foreign policy put in place by President Barack Obama, and told him he had to honor Obama's prior agreement to accept 1,250 refugees from Australia:
TURNBULL: Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us – that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.
TRUMP: I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it – START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.
TURNBULL: You will not.
TRUMP: Yes, I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.
TURNBULL: You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.
TRUMP: I have no choice to say that about it. Malcolm, I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough, Malcolm. 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 told the leader of one of America's important economic and military allies that he prefers talking to the autocratic president of a hostile foreign power who is responsible for murders of journalists and political opponents, and who attacked the United States.
The revelation comes at a time when Trump is stinging from the humiliation of Congress overruling him on loosening Russian sanctions.
It is clear that Trump does not understand or care about the state of U.S. foreign relations. He has called Germany "evil" and falsely told NATO leaders to their faces that they were delinquent on payments. Even as he sucks up to Russia, he is pushing away our actual allies.
The American people must desperately hope that the damage to our foreign relations can be repaired before we lose all of our global standing.