Amid perhaps the most urgent threat of impeachment so far, President Donald Trump met with the man of the hour, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who absolutely wants nothing to do with any of this. He would very much like to be excluded from this narrative! Get him outta here!
The meeting today at the United Nations, which took place just hours after the White House released a memo about a phone call between the two leaders where Trump directly asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, looked excruciating for the Ukrainian president.
But still, Zelensky and Trump both agreed that Trump didn’t “pressure” Zelensky on Biden investigation.
Zelensky isn’t a native English speaker, so following the thread of the conversation is a bit tough, but he’s clearly trying to say that everything is fine, please do not drag him into this. At one point he also said, “I don’t want to be involved with democratic... elections of the USA,” which, fair.
What else is he supposed to say! As Vice noted earlier today, Zelensky is doing his absolute best to pretend that nothing is wrong, seeing as his entire relationship with the U.S. is on the line. He can’t come out and denounce the notoriously petty sitting leader of the United States, and instead appears to be clinging to a position of neutrality or at least “please do your crimes with someone else I am begging you,” seeing as he ran on a vocal anti-corruption platform. There was also this:
Russia invaded Zelensky’s dang country!
Unfortunately, House Democrats have more bad news for Zelensky: it could be the Ukraine show now. According to the Washington Post, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is considering narrowing the scope of the congressional impeachment inquiry to focus on just Trump’s Ukraine scandal, or at least using it as the central case for impeachment proceedings. (During the sit-down, Trump also had words for Pelosi, bafflingly declaring: “As far as I am concerned, she’s no longer Speaker of the House.”)
The central allegation is that the Trump administration’s words with Zelensky, on the phone call and others, constitute a clear request for a foreign government to influence an upcoming election. The Democrats’ seem to believe this allegation, and the proof they’re confident they can turn up of it, are simple enough to build a better case for impeachment around than Trump’s other alleged crimes, like the litany of financial crimes, alleged hush payments, and possible obstructions of justice we’ve been dancing around for years. Personally, this interaction with Zelensky seems confusing and muddled enough that a broader inquiry might be more feasible, but hey, we’ll work with what we got, I guess? Who knows. Either way, the Ukrainian president is probably in for a very long, very uncomfortable crash course in American politics.