Trump after addressing the UN General Assembly. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump capped off UN week in New York on Thursday with what was intended as a private toast to UN Ambassador Kelly Craft and her staff, but which quickly became another dramatic episode in the fast-evolving Ukraine saga.

What he's saying: “I want to know, who’s the person that gave the whistleblower the information,” Trump said, according to audio leaked to the LA Times. “Because that’s close to a spy.”

  • “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right, with spies and treason? We used to handle it a little bit differently than we do now,” he continued.
  • Trump also referred to reporters as “animals” and “scum,” and described Joe Biden as “dumb as a rock.”

Driving the news: Trump was picking up in private where he left off in his last public event of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday night, at which he slammed Democrats and the press for undermining his efforts on the world stage.

  • He listed 28 countries with which he’d held meetings over a “tremendous three days,” while bemoaning the fact that it was all overshadowed by the frenzy back in Washington over impeachment.
  • Trump claimed wins this week on trade, following the completion of a partial trade deal with Japan affecting agriculture and digital trade, and immigration. Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s new president, emphasized his cooperation with Trump on that issue yesterday following a recent asylum deal.

The tensions over nationalism vs. multilateralism that have animated recent global gatherings were still present here, though in slightly diluted form.

  • Trump blasted “globalists” and “socialists” in his address to the General Assembly, and he made only a brief stop at the week’s main event — a summit on climate change.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron used part of his speech to rebut Trump, urging leaders against “retreating into nationalism.” France and Germany launched an initiative on multilateralism intended in part to balance against Trump’s isolationist tendencies.
  • But Trump’s attention, and that of the country, seemed to be elsewhere. On multiple occasions, he referred unprompted back to the Ukraine drama.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky must also contend with the fallout from his July call with Trump, a summary of which reveals his repeated efforts to flatter Trump and his potentially damaging criticism of European leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel.

  • “I don’t want to be involved in … elections of USA,” Zelensky said Wednesday, seated next to Trump, likely with the knowledge that was no longer possible.
  • Hours later, a dejected Trump said of impeachment: “I thought we won. I thought it was dead.”

What’s next: Trump departed New York on Thursday for Washington, where the political ground was shifting in his absence.

Go deeper

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans condemn Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A number of prominent Republican lawmakers addressed President Trump's refusal on Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, "The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."

1 hour ago - Technology

Pandemic spurs journalists to go it alone via email

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A slew of high-profile journalists have recently announced they are leaving newsrooms to launch their own, independent brands, mostly via email newsletters.

Context: Many of those writers, working with new technology companies like Substack, TinyLetter, Lede, or Ghost, have made the transition amid the pandemic.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 31,926,175 — Total deaths: 977,357 — Total recoveries: 22,004,598Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m ET: 6,935,556 — Total deaths: 201,920 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus is surging again — Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  4. Politics: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus — Poll says 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Technology: The tech solutions of 2020 may be sapping our resolve to beat the coronavirus
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!