Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 27, 2019
Donald Trump’s bizarre New York meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky: ‘I’ve made him more famous’
As an impeachment storm rages in Washington, to say that Donald Trump’s tête-à-tête with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was hotly anticipated would be the understatement of the week.
And it delivered: their appearance before the media in New York was tense, bizarre and funny all at the same time.
On the right: Trump, 73, the one-time real estate mogul and reality television star, now the Republican president of the United States.
On the left: Zelensky, 41, a one-time comedian, now president.
A summer telephone conversation between the two men is at the centre of a political firestorm in the US capital, and prompted opposition Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump.
In his usual dark blue suit and red tie, Trump – literally sitting on the edge of his seat – was anything but relaxed.
Zelensky, sporting a three-piece black suit, seemed far less anxious and settled easily into his armchair.
The tension in the room was palpable, but the conversation started on a lighter note, and even seemed like a surreal comedy act.
“He’s made me more famous and I’ve made him more famous,” the billionaire Trump quipped at the start of the meeting, to laughs from the press corps.
“It’s better to be on TV than by phone,” Zelensky replied with a bit of a knowing grin, speaking in English, a language in which he was fairly comfortable.
Then the tone shifted significantly.
Did the leader of the world’s only superpower put pressure on his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of Joe Biden, one of the Democrats vying to take on Trump in the 2020 election?
Zelensky hesitated and stammered before answering: “I think you read everything. (…) I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved in the democratic, open elections of (the) USA.”
Then he was more precise: “We had – I think (a) good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things, and … so I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed me.”
Trump chimed in: “In other words, no pressure”.
And then the Republican leader got angry. (Continued: South China Post)