President Donald Trump’s Thursday night meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was notable not only because the Republican commander in chief wound up accidentally praising a socialized health care system. He also put himself in a position whereby, shortly after applying his “fake news” epithet to media organizations, he proved they had been right for reporting on his bad behavior — and that he himself had lied about it.
In February Trump was reported as having hung up during his first presidential phone call with Turnbull after the two argued over a refugee program. Trump later tweeted this:
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
When speaking to reporters after meeting with Turnbull on Thursday, however, Trump insisted, “We get along great. We have a fantastic relationship, I love Australia. I always have. We had a great telephone call. You guys exaggerated that call. That was a big exaggeration. We’re not babies.”
Later on Thursday after he praised Turnbull as a “very, very special prime minister” and “my friend from Australia,” Trump said, “We had a very, very good call. That was a little bit of fake news.”
A few hours later, however, as Trump took to the stage at a gala commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, Trump accidentally admitted that he had lied. “Now the record is straight . . . all of those people back there. We had a very nice phone call. A little testy. It got a little bit testy, but that’s OK,” Trump told the audience.
Even Trump’s effusive praise for Turnbull is a tad difficult to take seriously, given that he cut short his meeting time with the Australian prime minister in order to celebrate the victory of the House’s passing the American Health Care Act.