President Donald Trump Called New Hampshire a “Drug-Infested Den”
New details have emerged about President Donald Trump’s early conversations with foreign leaders. The Washington Post obtained transcripts of Trump’s January conversations with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, both of which revealed some contentious exchanges about his planned border wall and refugees.
Of particular interest to New Englanders, however, is the moment where he’s discussing the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. After telling Nieto, “We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy,” he went on to pinpoint a particular location that he thought was struggling.
“I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den,” he explained. (While he won the primary in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton won the state, and the rest of New England, in the presidential election.) As president, his actions on the opioid epidemic have so far included considering cutting 95 percent of funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Additionally, a budget blueprint released back in March suggested he was interested in heavy budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. A White House commission working to fight opioid abuse that Governor Charlie Baker is a member of recently urged the president to declare a national emergency about the issue, but he has not done so yet.
But New Hampshire wasn’t the only New England state to come up in his chats with foreign leaders. His conversation with Turnbull turned to a discussion of refugees that President Obama had promised to accept from Australia. While previous reports had suggested the phone call ended acrimoniously, with Trump arguing that the United States should not have to accept the refugees, the new report offers a clearer picture of how the conversation went down, and provides context for the earlier reports that he compared the refugees to the Tsarnaev brothers. The president argued against accepting the refugees, saying, “I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people,” apparently a reference to dairy farms the refugees could work for.
Turnbull countered that the U.S. had already agreed to accept the refugees, using terms undoubtedly familiar to the businessman: “There is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal.”
Trump’s response? He claimed the refugees could “become the Boston bomber in five years.”
The refugees, according to Turnbull, “were economic refugees who had not been accused of crimes.”
The issue seems to have been a real sticking point for the new president, who told Turnbull “this is going to kill me” and “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.” The two countries continue to negotiate the specifics of resettling the refugees, though the general outlines suggest the United States will follow through on its end of the deal.