President Trump may have used his signature tough talk in phone conversations with foreign leaders that are typically reserved for delicate diplomatic discussion, according to a pair of reports published Wednesday evening.
Trump warned Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who recently canceled a planned visit to the U.S. over the president's immigration-related executive actions, that he might send military forces to confront "bad hombres" near the southern border unless the Mexican government did so itself, the Associated Press reported, citing what it described as a partial transcript of the phone call.
Trump and Pena Nieto spoke by phone on Jan. 27, after which the White House released a statement describing a "productive and constructive call regarding the bilateral relationship between the two countries."
A separate report suggested Trump may have flexed his muscles in a subsequent phone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The discussion grew heated when Turnbull questioned whether Trump would honor an agreement struck by former President Obama that would allow 1,250 refugees, mostly from the Middle East, into the U.S. from the Australian centers where they currently reside, the Washington Post reported.
Lamenting the political heat he could take for backing out of the agreement, Trump reportedly described it as "the worst deal ever" on the phone with Turnbull.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the deal would proceed, although he noted the refugees in question would need to pass a thorough screening process before they could enter the U.S.
"There will be extreme vetting applied to all of them as part and parcel of the deal that was made, and it was made by the Obama administration with the full backing of the United States government," Spicer said.
However, subesequent reporting suggested the White House sought to walk those comments back after Tuesday's briefing. An administration official told an Australian media outlet that Trump is still weighing whether to honor the agreement, which would be particularly complicated in light of an executive order that temporarily suspended the flow of refugees from several of the countries represented among the refugees being held off the coast of Australia.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday evening.
The purported leaks quickly raised questions about which members of Trump's administration had divulged such candid descriptions of sensitive talks to the media, and why. The reports also underscored the challenges that could lie ahead for a president whose unconventional style is an awkward fit for the measured world of diplomacy.