Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed Wednesday that he wanted to stay out of the roiling American political controversy over President Donald Trump’s pressure on him to supply dirt on Joe Biden.
Sitting next to Trump at their first in-person meeting, at the United Nations, Zelensky was asked if he felt any pressure from Trump to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
During a call on July 25, a memorandum of which the White House released Wednesday, Trump is shown repeatedly pressuring Zelensky to look into Biden.
Zelensky demurred, referencing the memorandum and saying he didn’t want to get involved.
“I think you read everything,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections,” he said, adding: “No, you heard that we had a good, I think, phone call. It was normal, we spoke about many things. So I think — and you read it — that nobody pushed me.”
Trump butted in: “In other words, no pressure, because there was no pressure.” He then turned to Zelensky and said “I appreciate the answer.”
Later, asked if he felt “obligated” to keep his promises to Trump, Zelensky responded in Ukrainian. Trump asked for a translation.
“Concerning the investigation, I want to underscore that Ukraine is an independent country,” the translator read back. “We have a new prosecutor general in Ukraine, a highly professional man with a western education and history, to investigate any case he considers and deems appropriate.”
Zelensky’s comments echoed what Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, had said in an interview that aired Saturday: “I think there was no pressure.”