Senator John McCain on Thursday blasted President Trump's "blunt" telephone talk with Australia's prime minister as "unnecessary and frankly harmful" and then tried to mend fences with the longtime ally.
In a call to Australian ambassador Joe Hockey, the Arizona Republican stressed that "Australia is one of America's oldest friends and staunchest allies."
"We are united by ties of family and friendship, mutual interests and common values, and shared sacrifice in wartime," McCain wrote in a statement. "In that spirit, I called Australia’s Ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance. I asked Ambassador Hockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote."
McCain reached out Hockey after it emerged that Trump, in a telephone call Saturday with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, branded an Obama Administration deal that would allow mostly Muslim refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the U.S. as "dumb" and vowed to review it.
Instead of the hour-long conversation that was scheduled, Trump's first conversation as president with Turnbull ended after just 25 minutes. And a senior Trump administration official told NBC News that the President's tone during the talk has been "blunt" — but pushed back on reports that there had been yelling.
McCain told reporters the U.S. and Australia have more important issues to work on with besides a refugee deal that is already done.
"This, in my view, was an unnecessary and frankly harmful open dispute over an issue which is not nearly as important as United States-Australian cooperation in working together, including training of our marines in Australia and other areas of military cooperation and intelligence," he said.
On Thursday, Turnbull insisted the refugee deal was still on and declined to weigh-in on this talk with Trump.
"It's better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately," Turnbull told reporters.
Later, in an interview with Sydney radio station 2GB, Turnbull denied that Trump had hung up on him. He said their conversation ended "courteously."
Trump himself later told reporters that he simply looked at the deal that had been