Today Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to discuss a new leak crackdown, but he will have to deal with questions raised by one of the most massive leaks in recent memory. Someone has leaked the entire transcripts of two heated January phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The conversations are deeply embarrassing for the Administration because they directly contradict statements made by Trump to the public. These transcripts would also be likely classified, making their release a federal offense.
In one conversation detailed by The Washington Post, Trump pressures Nieto to stop saying publicly that Mexico will not pay for the wall. The President dismisses the issue (upon which he campaigned) as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.” He simply did not want Nieto to state publicly what they both knew: “You cannot say that to the press.”
Trump assured Nieto that it would not be problem if he would just stop telling the public that Mexico would not pay. He insisted that the money issue “will work out in the formula somehow … it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” He then said that if the Mexican president told the truth to the public about his position “then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.” It was an obviously heated and bizarre conversation.
The conversation with Turnbull was even more bizarre. Trump resisted taking 2000 refugees that we were obligated to accept under prior agreements. He told Turnbull: “This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.” He described the agreement as a “horrible” deal and added that “I hate taking these people … I guarantee you they are bad.” He insisted that the refugees could “become the Boston bomber in five years.” He then added “I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.” Trump then complained that the call with our close ally was “the most unpleasant call all day” and the call was then ended.
It was an embarrassing conversation and directly contradicted Trump’s earlier denial that he had a heated conversation with Turnbull. At the time, he told the public:
“Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!”
The release of the transcript is a major breach of confidentiality for the President and undermines the ability of the President to assure other heads of state that there conversations are confidential and secure. Thus, there is ample reason for Trump to be outraged. However, like the hacking of the Clinton emails, the leak also exposes glaring contradictions in what Trump said to the public and what actually transpired in these conversations.