Donald Trump decided it would be a good idea to present himself to the media alongside Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, just hours after the White House released an account of the controversial July phone call between the two leaders.
During that call, Trump pressed Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani and William Barr on an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. There was also a somewhat cryptic reference to Hillary Clinton.
Zelensky described the call as “good and normal”, when quizzed by the media. “Nobody pushed me”, he said, with Trump staring at him, just a few feet away.
Trump essentially employed the same tactics he used on the call, only this time live, on television. “Stop corruption in Ukraine”, Trump instructed. “Because that will really make you great”.
That the president would so openly parrot the same cadence he apparently used on the call was remarkable and demonstrated both his brazenness and lingering sense of invulnerability despite the impeachment inquiry.
Trump then regaled Zelensky with a history lesson which doubled as an Obama smear. “If you remember, you lost Crimea during a different administration”, the US president said. “That was during the Obama administration”.
“It’s just one of those things”, he went on to say of Crimea, before again bashing Europe for not giving Ukraine enough money.
Trump also advised Zelensky to sit down with Vladimir Putin and work things out. “I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem”, he said.
Zelensky looked physically sick at that juncture.
As for Joe and Hunter Biden, Trump was unrelenting. Asked specifically if he “wanted Zelensky to do more on Joe Biden”, Trump said “no”, before immediately launching into a lengthy diatribe.
“Whatever he can do in terms of corruption – now when Biden’s son walks away with millions of dollars from Ukraine and he knows nothing and they’re paying him millions of dollars, that’s corrupt”, Trump said, conflating all manner of storylines and running absolutely roughshod over the facts.
And he wasn’t done with the libel and flagrant defamation. “When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 million in a fund and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China, and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that’s a horrible thing”, said the man who calls Mar-a-Lago “The Winter White House” and whose golf trips to his own clubs have cost taxpayers an estimated $102 million.
Asked why he feels like it’s appropriate for his personal lawyer to insert himself into US foreign policy, Trump cited the necessity of getting the whole story behind Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and uncovering the origins of “witch hunts”.
Color us speechless.