And, boy, was the pushback hard and fierce.
In an interview in Time magazine published Monday, Zelensky lamented that Trump’s promotion of an unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections is making it hard for Zelensky to improve his country’s image with other nations.
Also, asked about the connection between frozen U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations that would benefit Trump, Zelensky said he had “never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo,” claiming that’s not his “thing” and that he didn’t want Ukraine “to look like beggars.”
But he added:
“If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
Zelensky was clearly criticizing the U.S.’s conduct toward Ukraine in the interview, but Trump didn’t let the facts get in his way. He used Zelensky’s comments to argue that he’d done nothing wrong in his interactions with Ukraine, which are now under scrutiny in the House impeachment probe.
Breaking News: The President of Ukraine has just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls. If the Radical Left Democrats were sane, which they are not, it would be case over!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2019
Many Twitter users were quick to point out that Zelensky was actually calling out out the president, not defending him.
Fact check: Volodymyr Zelensky did not say this— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) December 2, 2019
This is what he actually said: "You have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us" https://t.co/8V7IKMt86A
Zelensky, in this interview, doesn't say anything like this.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 2, 2019
He faults Trump for calling Ukraine corrupt and says it hurts Ukraine in the eyes of the world.https://t.co/rP9GYdEmtg https://t.co/iQQ7CSzBUw
It's, like, *movie-level* evil to use the victim of your crime to advance the premise that you shouldn't be prosecuted, especially when the victim is still reliant on you for their continued well-being and can do nothing but parrot the line you've fed them— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) December 2, 2019
*Leave Zelensky alone* https://t.co/fMzo9L913A
BREAKING NEWS: THE PRESIDENT IS LYING. https://t.co/Y9Rmyf2tfd— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) December 2, 2019
Trump has two responses when presented with massive evidence he has committed crimes: One is to ignore the evidence and claim he is exonerated. The other is to say "she is not my type." https://t.co/kLsjTJ1CAD— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) December 2, 2019
One person jumped to the president’s defense ― sort of.
Reading comprehension was never his forte. https://t.co/qQqMxzPq0r— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) December 2, 2019
Another saw another big issue facing the president.
Imagine tweeting about yourself in third person and expecting people to take you seriously. https://t.co/be9aTAMRWT— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) December 2, 2019
Finally, author Rick Wilson couldn’t help but make this observation:
The guilt sweat just rolls off you in waves https://t.co/C8u57ZNSal— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) December 2, 2019
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.