Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Blaming media for his Ukraine woes, Donald Trump leaves UN

The US President accused reporters of ignoring his achievements

US President Donald Trump prepares to leave the room after a press conference held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. EPA
US President Donald Trump prepares to leave the room after a press conference held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. EPA

When Donald Trump holds a press conference you don't need to worry too much. He is always interesting. But following what he says, and means, is a challenge.

In New York on Wednesday, ending three days at the UN General Assembly, the US president seemed out of sorts.

Firstly, he was disappointed that reporters ignored all of the meetings he had.

“You waste your time on nonsense,” he said, taking the podium at the Intercontinental Hotel, just a few streets away from his home in Manhattan, Trump Tower.

Hailing great talks on trade with Japan, new homes sales indicative of a good US economy and a falling oil price, Mr Trump said the outlook should be bright.

But allegations that he asked the president of Ukraine for dirt on his 2020 election rival Joe Biden hit Mr Trump hard on Tuesday, hours before he addressed world leaders. His speech lacked his usual gusto.

The following 24 hours seem to have left Mr Trump angry but not surprised.

“It's all a hoax,” he said of the impeachment inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling her and fellow Democrats people who work against the interests of the US.

“I have been up from early in the morning to late at night,” he said of his time in meetings at the UN this week. The media coverage was “really disappointing”.

There was nothing much of substance to be revealed about what had been achieved, not to the press at least.

“It's all about the election, that's all they're interested in,” Mr Trump said of his opponents in Washington.

Far from a breach of the US constitution, Mr Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was “beautiful ... just a wonderful conversation”.

But it has landed him in deep water. The timing, during UN week, was deliberate, the US president raged.

Reprising the language he used to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and the conduct of Mr Trump's 2016 election campaign, impeachment is “a phoney witch hunt”.

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UNGA day 3 - in pictures

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Asked why it should be acceptable for a US president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent, Mr Biden, or his son Hunter, Mr Trump did not say it should be unacceptable.

Instead, he recalled his grievances against Mr Biden, a Democrat, and said it was he who should be investigated.

“You take a look at that call. It was perfect. There was no quid pro quo,” said Mr Trump.

Of his election three years ago? “We are the ones that played it straight.” His opponents, however, then and now, are “radical left socialists, or worse. That's pretty bad.”

The questions about Ukraine and impeachment continued to come.

Only at the end did Mr Trump seem to take a shine to the media, when a Venezuelan journalist asked him about the economic problems in her country and what was he prepared to do about President Nicolas Maduro.

“How are you doing?” Mr Trump asked.

“Pretty bad,” came the reply. “But we are going to make it.”

The US president countered: “And we are helping you.”

After a couple of rough days, Mr Trump had found a friend.

Updated: September 26, 2019 11:51 AM

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