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Malcolm Turnbull Says Kevin Rudd Actually Set Him Up With Leaked Letters

Turnbull says Rudd wrote to him "with the clear intention of subsequently releasing it".

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Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said "it says a lot about Mr Rudd" that he leaked private letters exchanged between the two about Rudd's nomination for United Nations secretary-general position.

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The two men are now embroiled in a messy drama after Malcolm Turnbull decided the government would not support the former PM's nomination, and Rudd leaked the private correspondence.

On ABC's 774 Drive program radio on Monday, Turnbull suggested Rudd staged the sending of the letters after he'd already told Rudd he didn't have the government's support back in May.

"They were all confidential discussions. They were all private conversations. It says a lot about Mr Rudd that quite some time after the event he would seek to present an account of them in correspondence. He would write to me with the clear intention of subsequently releasing it," said Turnbull.

"He was told in May when I spoke to him, that cabinet - it was my judgement - that the cabinet would not support his nomination. That I would not support."

Hours after Turnbull's surprising decision last Friday, three seemingly private letters were leaked to the media that suggested Malcolm Turnbull had expressed his personal support for Rudd's nomination last year.

Another letter Rudd to Turnbull, suggests they've had "many conversations" since September last year.

There were three letters leaked:

One from 4 April 2016, which was Rudd's formal nomination for the position. The letter referred to "support you have offered me in our discussions on my candidature".

One from 1 May 2016, which asked Turnbull to reconsider his position after a phone call between the two men. Rudd also said in the letter, "as you know we have had many discussions in person, by text and by phone on the matter of my candidature".

One from 28 July 2016, which asked for a private meeting between the two ahead of Turnbull's final decision.

On Monday, the PM said Rudd's "recollection" in the letters does not match up with the facts.

"They include accounts of conversations and meetings that are at odds with my recollection," said Turnbull.

"Mr Rudd at all relevant times has known that the decision on whether to nominate him, was a decision for the Cabinet."

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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