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Friday, August 11, 2017

Theres a racist on the hill

Why Trump’s Phone Call with Australia’s Prime Minister Will Haunt Him in Court

There is a moment in Donald Trump’s phone call, a week after his Inauguration, with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull—the transcript of which was obtained by the Washington Post—when Trump seems to think he understands his counterpart. It comes, tellingly, at a point when he also decides that the Prime Minister has been lying to the public. The two men had been discussing a deal, concluded under the Obama Administration, for the United States to take in up to two thousand refugees whom Australia had detained on the islands of Nauru and Manus. They were not being held there because they were “bad people,” Turnbull says, but because Australia has a policy of not letting in refugees who arrive by boat: “If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.”

“What is the thing with boats?” Trump says. “Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.”

He thought he got, in other words, that Turnbull didn’t want to discriminate against boats but did want to discriminate against people coming from “certain regions”—regions that, Trump seemed to imagine, were both full of undesirables and a boat’s length from Sydney. (Whether his epiphany made any geographical sense is another matter.) That would, after all, be a version of the semantic trick that Trump had tried himself when he was asked, in an interview with Lesley Stahl, how he would get a ban on Muslims entering the United States past the courts: “We’ll call it territories, O.K.?”

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