Sep 25, 2019

Ukraine president's efforts to flatter Trump on display in July phone call

Zelensky waits to address the UN General Assembly. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A summary of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky released by the White House Wednesday reveals Zelensky’s efforts to flatter and ingratiate himself with his American counterpart.

What he's saying: Zelensky, a newcomer to politics who took office in May, said some credit for his landslide victory was due to "skills and knowledge" he had picked up from observing Trump. Zelensky also called Trump a "great teacher" for his own efforts to "drain the swamp" in Ukraine. He also made a point to note he had stayed at Trump Tower on a recent visit to New York.

Why it matters: U.S. support is crucial to Ukraine, which has relied on American military aid in its war with Russian-backed separatists. Trump froze that aid in advance of his call with Zelensky, from whom he made multiple requests in the call. One of those requests involved investigating Trump and Rudy Giuliani's unsupported claims that Joe Biden "stopped the prosecution" of a Ukrainian case that involved his son, Hunter.

Worth noting: The contents of the memo may raise an eyebrow or two in Europe. When Trump said the U.S. was helping Ukraine far more than Germany and the EU help, Zelensky replied: "You are absolutely right. Not only 100%, but actually 1000%."

What to watch: The two presidents are set to meet this afternoon at the UN

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