“WTF Was I Meant To Do?” Australia’s Former PM Spilled The Tea About That Phone Call With Trump In His New Book

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April 23, 2020, 05:08 GMT

Hannah Ryan

BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia

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Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull in November 2017.

Remember the infamous first phone call between US president Donald Trump and then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull?

“This is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump said, as he brought the January 2017 conversation to an end. “Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”

The topic of the call was the refugee swap deal between Australia and the US, struck by Barack Obama and Malcolm Turnbull, and later reluctantly adopted by the Trump administration.

Under the deal the US agreed to resettle up to 1,200 refugees Australia had held in offshore detention camps in the Pacific for years.

The deal survived Turnbull’s August 2018 removal from office, and so far the US has resettled more than 700 refugees under it, with almost 300 more approved for transfer. Homeland Security staffers were in Sydney as recently as February interviewing candidates for resettlement.

Turnbull’s tell-all book about his political career, A Bigger Picture, was released on Monday. Here’s what it reveals about the deal he argued over with Trump.

Turnbull says that resettling refugees and asylum seekers was one of his “highest priorities” when he became prime minister

When Turnbull won the prime ministership from Tony Abbott in September 2015, there were about 1,800 people in offshore detention, on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Finding a third country resettlement solution for these people was one of Turnbull’s highest priorities, and he met regularly with then immigration minister Peter Dutton and foreign minister Julie Bishop about it in the early months of his term, he writes.

Turnbull and Obama agreed on the deal in January 2016

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Turnbull and Obama at the White House in January 2016.

Turnbull said he realised early on that the US was the “best, and possibly only, realistic option” for resettling the refugees. He raised the issue in an Oval Office meeting with Barack Obama in January 2016, where the two made an in principle agreement.

Turnbull writes that he told Obama the offshore population of about 1,800 people, mostly from the Middle East, “weren’t terrorists or criminals” and had been thoroughly vetted, but that if he brought them to Australia it would encourage people smugglers to start sending boats to Australia again. He said the largest single group was of Iranians, who were mostly economic migrants, but that Iran would not accept returned asylum seekers.

“I said, ‘And we want to get them off those islands. So, can we do a deal where you offer asylum to them and we do the same with some of the people seeking refuge in the US?’

“The president described his nation’s challenge: waves of unaccompanied children and youths crossing the border from Guatemala, El Salvador and elsewhere fleeing gang violence.”

Australia and the US decided to hold off announcing the deal until after the 2016 presidential election

The deal was signed on Sept. 20 that year when Turnbull was in New York. Obama and Turnbull both agreed they should not announce it during the presidential campaign, “lest Trump seize on it and make an issue of it”.

Australia agreed to take “complex cases” from the Americans

The text of the deal has never been made public, and it is not clear exactly what Australia’s side of the bargain was.

“It was a fair deal: we were resettling people for the Americans, including some complex cases, as they were assisting us,” Turnbull writes. Those complex cases may include three Rwandan men who were charged with murder over a massacre of tourists.

(A US official has said that Australia agreed to make efforts to take refugees fleeing Central America, and to take refugees from areas it does not normally take refugees from, but it was not a one-to-one swap.)

Australia was nervous that Fox News would criticise the deal

The deal was announced on Nov. 13 and American officials began interviews on Nauru in early December. “Naturally, we were anxious to ensure that the right-wing media in the USA, especially Fox News, didn’t latch on to the deal and make it an issue, so we were careful to say as little as possible,” Turnbull writes.

Jared Kushner helped save the deal when Trump introduced his travel ban

A December conversation with incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus gave Turnbull the impression Trump would stick with the deal, but then in January Australia heard of Trump’s plans to ban refugees from majority-Muslim countries. “Frantic lobbying” from Australia followed. Dow Chemicals CEO, Australian-born Andrew Liveris, introduced Turnbull and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Turnbull called Kushner and Trump’s immigration adviser Stephen Miller to urge them to stick with the deal.

“They were sympathetic and assured me the new executive order wouldn’t prevent the refugee deal going ahead,” Turnbull writes.

Vice president Mike Pence and national security advisor Mike Flynn also assured senior Australian officials that the Trump administration would honour the deal. On Jan. 27, the executive order carved out an exemption for preexisting international agreements.

“Thanks, Jared!” Turnbull writes.

The Australians were told Trump would not honour the deal shortly before Trump and Turnbull got on the phone

Mandel Ngan / Getty Images

Trump’s first call with Turnbull.

Just before Turnbull arrived at his office for his first call with Trump, Flynn and Pence called Australian counterparts to ask them not to even mention the deal on the call. Trump had changed his mind and he would not honour the deal.

Despite the tension on the call, Turnbull writes, “I reasoned with Trump and finally won him over”.

Trump held a grudge against Turnbull after the call

Kushner told Turnbull over a month later that Trump was “still hurt” about the deal.

“‘He hadn’t expected you’d come on so strong, although we knew that was your reputation,'” Kushner told him, according to Turnbull. “I told him I didn’t think the call was so bad. ‘Malcolm, it was bad’.”

Kushner urged Turnbull to be “low-key and deferential” towards Trump at an upcoming event, which Rupert Murdoch had persuaded Trump to attend.

Turnbull wrote in his diary that day: “It sounds like Trump felt he had been bested in the negotiation and was furious with himself and with me. Well, WTF was I meant to do? Anyway sounds like we have to play it by ear and the goal of the meeting is simply not to have a row or a diplomatic debacle like so many of his other international meetings.”

Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, was also worried that Trump might “nurse this grievance and want to pay me back”. At one point, Australian diplomats suggested Turnbull offer Trump a concession on a tax treaty in exchange for honouring the refugee deal.

Turnbull was annoyed Australian journalists kept asking about the deal at White House press briefings

Turnbull’s plan was to keep the deal “very low-key” and send the message that Trump didn’t like the deal but had decided to honour it anyway. But the Australian media, particularly the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “badgered the White House” for detail and did “everything they could” to make it a US news story, including raising the issue in the White House briefing room, Turnbull writes.

“I wasn’t surprised they relished the prospect of embarrassing Trump and, if the deal fell over, my government as well,” Turnbull says.

“But I wonder if the ABC’s Zoe Daniel [then Washington correspondent] ever considered the refugees who stood to benefit from the arrangement.”

Australia thought Steve Bannon was trying to undermine the deal

The Washington Post published details of the Trump-Turnbull call, including Trump’s accusation that it was his worst call that day, on Feb. 2, 2017, less than a week after the call, and a few hours after this tweet:

Donald J. Trump

Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!

03:55 AM – 02 Feb 2017


“We assumed the leak had come from Bannon; his motive would have been either to produce enough heat to force Trump to renege on his commitment to me or, at the very least, to demonstrate to Trump’s base that he’d agreed to the deal only through the most gritted of teeth,” according to Turnbull.

Turnbull was happy details of the call were leaked

The deal had never been a big US news story — but the tense call was, and it had the opposite of its intended effect, Turnbull said. “Both fans of Australia and critics of Trump lined up to express their solidarity with us,” he writes. “Trump and/or Bannon had overreached and now we had the upper hand.”

Trump joked that Turnbull had “two thousand of the worst terrorists in the world locked up on a desert island” and had talked Trump into taking them

When Trump and Turnbull finally met in May 2017, Trump told his wife Melania: “Melania, do you know, Malcolm has two thousand of the worst terrorists in the world locked up on a desert island and that fool Obama agreed to take them. Can you believe that? And now Malcolm has talked me into taking them too! He got me to do something I promised never to do! He is a tough negotiator!” By this point, Trump knew that the refugees posed no security risks.

“Melania smiled, faintly and mischievously. ‘Just like you, Donald,’ she said,” Turnbull writes.

New Zealand told Australia they would take 150 people per year, but they didn’t want to take single men

Afp Contributor / Getty Images

Ardern and Turnbull in Sydney in November 2017.

New Zealand has a standing offer to take 150 people from offshore detention. But, Turnbull writes, “they didn’t want any single men (the bulk of the detainee population)”, and Australia’s agencies advised that people smugglers would exploit resettlement in New Zealand as being the same as settlement in Australia.

When Jacinda Ardern raised the issue with Turnbull shortly after she was elected New Zealand’s prime minister in October 2017, he told her he wanted to complete the US deal first, he writes. “She was later to press me on this but wanted to prioritise taking women and children; as I pointed out, these were the most likely to get offers to go to the USA.”

A spokesperson for Ardern has described Turnbull’s account as fair, as New Zealand prioritises families, children, vulnerable groups and people with high protection within its refugee intake. However, the New Zealand government has also said its policy does not exclude men.

Turnbull regretted not getting everybody off Manus and Nauru during his prime ministership

“Of course, I left the prime minister’s office with many things undone…while there was not one successful people-smuggling expedition to Australia during my time, I wasn’t able to realise my goal of resettling all the asylum seekers in PNG and Nauru,” Turnbull writes. Nevertheless, Turnbull cites signing the deal and getting it underway even with Trump as one of his proudest achievements.

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Hannah Ryan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Hannah Ryan at hannah.ryan@buzzfeed.com.

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The Woman Who Baked This Jacinda Ardern Cake Is Very Sorry, For Obvious Reasons

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April 15, 2020, 07:06 GMT

Cameron Wilson

BuzzFeed News Reporter

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Laura Daniel is a New Zealand television host, comedian and amateur baker. She’s previously impersonated the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Laura Daniel

Laura Daniel as Jacinda Ardern.

Daniel recently went up against fellow television host Hilary Barry in a baking competition on Barry’s television show Seven Sharp.

The challenge: make a cake, without flour, in two hours depicting a Kiwi icon.

In an episode that aired on Tuesday night, Barry produced a pavlova — a delicious meringue concoction, usually served with cream and fruit, that is popular in New Zealand and Australia — in the shape of Aoraki (Mount Cook).

Isn’t it nice!

Laura Daniel

Daniel chose a trickier target. She told BuzzFeed News that she decided to make a cake in the likeness of Jacinda Ardern as a tribute.

“I genuinely love her and think she’s been doing a great job,” Daniel said. “And what better way to honour her than a stunning cake?”

At the end of the allotted time, Daniel produced … this.

View this photo on Instagram

Instagram: @lauradaniel25

She later apologised for her cake, which incorporated an actual set of prosthetic teeth used by Daniel in her impersonations.

“They say don’t bake your heroes. But I wanted to try anyway. I’m deeply sorry @jacindaardern I truly tried my best with what I had available,” Daniel wrote on Instagram.

People poked fun at the cake on social media. One user commented on Daniel’s post: “That will visit my dreams.” Another said: “And I thought Covid19 was bad.”

Laura Daniel

Even Ardern weighed in with a comment: “😳😳”.

Despite her muse’s response to the cake, Daniel still stans her prime minister.

“I guess you could say Jacinda Ardern is a better prime minister than I am a baker,” she said.

Cameron Wilson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Cameron Wilson at cameron.wilson@buzzfeed.com.

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Jessi‚ Microdot‚ Dumbfoundead & Lyricks – K.B.B (가위바위보)

[Intro: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보

[Verse 1: Dumbfoundead]

Microdot, half the YOX
And one bad man, I’m a 나쁜 남자
I should go first, 내가 먼저 해야지
덤파형은 바쁘니깐
I wear my beanies like Gil from Leessang
피쳐 할 때는 진짜 비싸
But these my bros from west to east side
If you ain’t my bro then fuck the peace sign
Like 가위바위보
Your bitch got my wifi code
Im rich bitch my life dope, yeah
Lit like a night light, 잘자
Nothin’ like a nightlife, quite like Seoul
All of my bitches they stay out in Sinsa
I switch up the girls 들을 이차
Drop ’em all off in a 빈 차애
90 degrees when they 인사
Kick it with nothing but real heads
Cause I ain’t got time for no bullshit
Bottom of shoes lookin’ real red
Like 아저씨 drinkin’ at 술집
I got a visa from here to Ibiza
We puttin’ in work, work, work
Rock paper scissors, I guess I’m the winner
So let me go first, 가위바위보

[Hook: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보 [x4]

[Verse 2: Lyricks]
I took a red eye
And landed, showered
Then met up with Micro, Dummy, got 배달
And jumped in the rover, then sped up to Cheonho
Jessi came through the studio
And turned it into mother fuckin’ 1OAK
Yall know, my Wells Fargo lookin’
Like a 한국 전화번호 (digits)
Bad rap, we the illest independent homie, that’s that
Master of ceremony, bring the cash back
Pound a 40 like a hashtag
Step to us get ur ascap’d
Big numbers when I do that show
I-95 how I move that dope
I got drive, NY to Seoul
It’s the YOX for the few that know
Yeah, Rollin’ with the YOX
We the best it gets lonely on the top
No stress cuz’ I’m homies with the dot
No rest, 넌 벌써 졸리냐
Weak boy
Lemme set it straight, lemme educate
Lemme give a taste, let me embed it inside of your mind
So every time you hear me sayin’ that I’m one of the greats
I’m not sayin’ it to finish a rhyme motherfucker

[Hook: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보 [x4]

[Verse 3: Microdot]
누가 먼저 가위바위보
From buses to drivin’ that Rove
Mom now drippin’ and cookin’ in gold
Makin’ that music and bakin’ that soul
Cake, cake, cake, so much cake
We could run a baking sale
That’s that Auckland city lifestyle
That’s game boy, that major league
Self-made, no lottery
40,000 feet up in the air (up in the air)
No economy
Going coast to coast, to shows to shows
Don’t mean to brag and boast my nose
My success came with no strings
Attached, I’m my own boss
Talkin’ bout bars, no snickers
And no not the one under my zippers
I cut and paste, and rearrange man
I go dumb dumb with my lyrics
Bitches be bitchin and jealousy be hittin’
Them kittens like the Kardashians
내가 뭘 하고 어딜 가던
얼마 벌고 어디애다 쓰건
Don’t worry bout me, I’m makin’ a livin’
Nothin’ came free, nada was given
Young fat boy straight outta New Zealand
Feelin’ good vibes, Dumb, Rick and Million
About to play a game, rock paper scissors
Three dope boys, yes we the trillest
No new friends, this is family business
Oh, and my sister, Jessi

[Hook: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보 [x4]

[Outro: Jessi]
가위바위보, 가위바위보, 가위바위, I said
가위바위보, 가위바위보, 가위바위
가위바위보, 가위바위보, 가위바위, I said

Tech N9ne – Wifi (WeeFee) (The Storm Deluxe Edition Album)

Yeah *laughter*
Go right up

[Verse 1]
Connect, ain’t nobody but Tech
I been dope since I put raps on BASF cassette
Since then my pen been at war like Montagues and Capulets
A menacing strap you get, been winning in rap who’s next
To get permanent power polluted, paper protruded
Punani praise on its pubics and they’re prepared to pursue it
Get us then we drills em
Having plenty thrills um wellington New Zealand banging her with a chest like Wendy Williams
Everybody know with the kinda money I bring to the table I can put em off
Take em all around the world, get the dough and get the girl touching other people and I brought the hood along
Teams where I wings fly people I never seen cry
If you wanna see the mean side just go stream what I seen on steam, put your hand in my bean pie
Salam [?]
I’m something fierce, I bring player haters to tears with my schemes
Come reach me, I got the species locked and no one can beat me
The feces, what I released on this beat he’s gonna wanna seek me because I’m the WeeFee

WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
I can put you on
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
With my push alone
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
Now you’re set in stone, I’m the

[Verse 2]
People need me, I’m the WeeFee
I get them on movies and TV
Connecting Scooby and Stevie
Straight from Missouri to Fiji
Trying to intrigue me ain’t easy
Unless you bringing them bad beasies in three-bies
We be having them louder than 194 dB
Organ, grinding, so they pour us in their mouth, and they’re loving it like Thorazine
When they freaking out I’m Jim Morrison
But I go without hair Billy Corgan
Releasing a lot more of them endorphins
WeeFee wins the war again the gores been like a horror film
Cause we kill, everything so be still
When we move in, not a cheap thrill
When the beat feels like E pills
Steadily repping B till, my B-L-double O-D spills
Then again Tech Nina keep mills
So I know I’mma get me a refill
Tech is highly respected
Been with a few major labels and left it
I rated my records intrepid
Since they didn’t rep it then F it
Now I’m elected to get the check and invest it
I’m such a vet you can bet I can get you connected
Cause I’m the WeeFee

WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
I can put you on
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
With my push alone
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
Now you’re set in stone, I’m the

[Verse 3]
If you with me but hating me
Disconnect from me, get away from me
Get a bit of fake thinkin’ they’re big as your paper be
When they try to shake a G they normally have to take a fee that’s lower than what they pay for he that works in Eminem’s bakery
You doubt a N9ne, you out of sight you out of mind
Nigga shout a crime from me they sniffing them powder lines
I’m the righteous
But I’m killing ’em like I’m Cypress
Play me like I’m not the nicest
No WeeFee leave you lifeless
Taking a knife to fight with ISIS, I like it
When they spite they get vices
When they hit that pipe think they’re psychic
Wanna figure my mic and try to slice it
But they do fizzle when they hear SuWu whistles
Disrespect me true this will happen and they lose signal
This was long awaited
Strange is how all the fakes were created
They think they made it, forgot about me and skated
They music, everybody played it cause I was right there to save it
They downgraded they hate it cause their signal is faded
Cause I’m the WeeFee, nigga

WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
I can put you on
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
With my push alone
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
Now you’re set in stone, I’m the