Trump repeatedly asked Ardern if New Zealand gives asylum very often

An awkward and at times meandering conversation was the most interest the president has ever shown in political asylum.

An awkward and at times meandering conversation was the most interest the president has ever shown in political asylum.

During his 20-minute closed door meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, United States President and trigger-event for shifting timelines, Donald Trump, jarringly and repeatedly pressed Ardern about requirements for asylum in New Zealand or at its Washington, DC embassy.

Even when Ardern tried to turn the topic to other conversations, Trump appeared to stare off into the distance, feigning acknowledgement, before awkwardly returning to the subject of asylum, which sources close to the conversation say he seemed “fixated on.”

The meeting between the pair opened with Trump offering his “tremendous” condolences for the victims of the March 15 terror attack in Christchurch, in response to which Ardern recounted the horror of the day, and the ongoing impacts on families.

“Yes, very beautiful,” he replied, staring at a pot. “I hear New Zealand is a beautiful, beautiful place, wonderful people, so many types of birds, and other birds. Do you offer much asylum?”

Ardern seemed perplexed by the question, but told the president yes.

“Oh good, very good,” he said, nodding. “What kind of requirements?”

Ardern, patiently, listed several things, including persecution based on “race, or nationality, or religion, or politics.”

“What was that last one again?” he asked.

“Political persecution.”

“Yes, that one.”

Ardern attempted to move the conversation to climate change.

“I hear New Zealand has excellent climate, wonderful climate,” he said. “Where would you usually place the asylum folks?”

“It… depends,” said Ardern.

“Okay, good,” he nodded. “Somewhere sunny, right?”

“Uhhh, yeah.”

“Good. Good.”

Sources say Trump brought up the subject of asylum no less than eight times, and concluded the meeting by asking if he could see the form.

The president did not appear to engage much on any other subjects, except at one point, when he asked if Ardern could “check the tapes” of what former Vice President Joe Biden was “up to” when he visited New Zealand in 2016.