Top Republican senators have stressed the importance of the US-Australia alliance in the wake of President Donald Trump’s contentious phone call with the Australian prime minister.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona released a statement Thursday morning calling Australia “one of America’s oldest friends and staunchest allies” and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted in support of Australia later in the day.
During Trump’s call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump called a refugee agreement with the nation the “worst deal ever” and accused Turnbull of trying to send America the “next Boston bombers” under a deal to send refugees from Australia to the US.
McCain said he called Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, on Thursday morning to reassure him of US support.
“Australia is one of America’s oldest friends and staunchest allies,” the senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee said in a statement. “We are united by ties of family and friendship, mutual interests and common values, and shared sacrifice in wartime.”
The statement continued: “In that spirit, I called Australia’s ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the US-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 also noted the long history Australia had of aligning with the US in conflicts including two world wars and conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Corker also said he called Hockey.
“Just got off the phone with Ambassador @JoeHockey,” he tweeted. “We discussed the important and long-lasting alliance between our two countries.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Republican, also commented on Trump’s phone call with the Australian prime minister, saying he wished Trump “would sleep more and tweet less.”
Trump tweeted Wednesday night: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
Trump addressed his contentious phone calls during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning.
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it,” Trump said. “Just don’t worry about it. They’re tough. We have to be tough. It’s time we’re gonna be a little tough, folks. We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not gonna happen anymore.”