President Trump said Wednesday that “Nancy Pelosi, as far as I’m concerned, she’s no longer the Speaker of the House” at a press conference with the president of Ukraine.
The comment brought a surreal scene to an abrupt halt: the U.S. president, standing alongside a foreign leader that he's accused of pressing to investigate his political rival, while slamming the politician who just opened an impeachment inquiry into him.
The presser capped a 20-minute meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, less than a day after Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry against Trump largely over a conversation he had with Zelensky in late July.
And just hours earlier, the White House published a memo outlining the contents of the July phone call, in which the American president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to “look into” 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Zelensky denied feeling pressure from Trump to probe the Bidens, and said he wanted nothing to do with the 2020 election in the U.S.
“I think you read everything,” Zelensky said when a reporter asked him whether he felt pressured by Trump to open a new investigation into Hunter Biden, who previously served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
“I think you read text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic open elections. Elections of USA,” Zelensky continued with a pained expression. “You heard, we had I think good phone call. It was normal, we spoke about many things. So I think, and you read, that nobody pushed me.”
“There was no pressure,” Trump interjected. “And by the way, you know there was no pressure.”
Trump then launched into a lengthy tirade against Hunter Biden, calling the $50,000 per month he reportedly earned from his board seat suspicious, referring to it as “a horrible thing.”
“Now, when Biden’s son walks away with millions of dollars from Ukraine, he knows nothing, and they’re paying him millions of dollars, that’s corruption,” Trump said. “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’s there for one quick meeting, and he flies in on Air Force 2, uh, I think that’s a horrible thing.”
A reporter then asked Trump why it’s “appropriate” for Rudy Giuliani –– Trump’s personal attorney, who is not a government employee –– to “get involved in government business.”
The question was a reference to Trump’s July call with Zelensky, in which he asked Zelensky to speak with Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.
“Rudy Giuliani is a great lawyer, he’s a great mayor, I’ve watched the passion he’s had on television the last few days,” Trump said. “I think he’s got a very strong right to do it.”
Trump ended the stunning press conference by circling back to his favorite subject: Hillary Clinton.
“Frankly, I think one of the great crimes was Hillary Clinton deleting 33,000 emails after Congress sent her a subpoena. Think of that,” Trump said in response to a question about whether he believes her emails could be “in Ukraine.”
“She deleted 33,000 emails after –– not before, after –– receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Congress. She’s done far worse than that. But I don’t know how much worse it can be,” Trump continued.
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)