Thrust Into An American Scandal, Ukraine’s President Dubbed ‘Monica Zelensky’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky finds himself in he middle of an historic American scandal, and with a new nickname.

Ukraine’s President isn’t exactly thrilled about being stuck in the middle of an American impeachment scandal and a partisan fight between Donald Trump and his political rivals:

Ukraine president Vlodymyr Zelensky probably always dreamed of being an internationally known household name, given his first chosen profession was acting.

But the actor-turned-president, who ran on an anti-corruption platform and won this spring—after playing a similar role on TV—probably never dreamed he’d end up at the center of an international kerfuffle that could sink the most powerful man in the world.

Still, that’s exactly where he finds himself. A phone call between Zelensky and US president Donald Trump has triggered an impeachment inquiry that has everyone recalling the last time the US government went down this road: the 1998 impeachment of then-president Bill Clinton.


If Zelensky is lucky, he will not end up tarnished by the intrigue surrounding him. Lewinsky did. And Ukrainians seem to have mixed feelings (in Ukrainian) about their country’s newfound fame. “Now the country of Ukraine is known to the whole world,” TV presenter Taras Berezovets wrote on Facebook. But as Ukrainian diplomat Pavlo Klimkin joked on social media, “Whatever happens, in the history of the United States, Ukraine will remain the country that led to the impeachment of the US President. Not a very fun prospect. But now everyone knows what we are capable of “

Zelensky has even earned a new, and likely undesired, nickname:

Less than a day after the leadership of the Democratic Party agreed to proceed full-throttle to throttle Donald Trump, the novice Ukrainian leader and former stage comedian who inadvertently may have caused the downfall of an American president already had gained a new nickname across the former Soviet Union: “Monica Zelensky.”

In Washington, D.C., the capital digested a partial, abbreviated and perhaps sanitized read-out of five minutes of the 30-minute July phone call in which Trump offered the aid of his attorney as well as his attorney general in fingering Joe Biden & Son for alleged trans-Carpathian malfeasance. Democratic commanders were quick to label this “a matter of urgent national-security concern,” “banana Republic-ism,” and “a seminal event.”

It was Bill Clinton’s own seminal event, of course, that led to his impeachment—and acquittal—in 1998, a scenario that remains the likely outcome of Trump’s prosecution as long as Senate Republicans remain united behind him. No evidence was presented Wednesday that the Grand Old Party was hemorrhaging—au contraire, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was reported to have raised one million defence-fund dollars at a GOP dinner Tuesday night.

In New York on Wednesday, the home-standing president, after meeting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in person for the first time, was defiant—even welcoming—of the siege to come.

“You take a look at that call and it was perfect. I didn’t do it. There was no quid pro quo. But there was with Biden,” Trump declared at a news conference. “There are a lot of very dishonest people. We’re the ones who played it straight, and you know, there are millions of people out there looking at what’s going on. Those people understand it. They see it, and they think it’s disgusting.”

Of his would-be defenestrators, including the current House Speaker, he added: “Our people are being hurt and our country is being hurt when a Nancy Pelosi allows her position to be taken over by radical, far-left socialists, or worse. That’s pretty bad.” mpletely pro-Ukraine.”

Obviously, neither Zelensky nor Ukraine as a whole really wants to be in this position. From the foreign policy point of view, Ukraine needs to maintain good relations with the United States regardless of which party is in political party is in power. Being seen as the puppet of a Republican President doesn’t exactly help with that goal, although Zelensky can probably take solace in the fact that for now at least, he is being viewed as something of a victim of Donald Trump’s who was dragged into a scandal he obviously never wanted to be a part of.

Back home in Ukraine, this whole thing doesn’t seem to be helping Zelensky’s standing and political position. As I’ve noted before, Zelensky is a political neophyte who has only been in office for five months. In that short period, he now finds himself, obviously unwillingly, thrust into the middle of a scandal in Washington that is likely to focus a harsh light on the issue of corruption in his home country. That’s not going to help him domestically or internationally.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Pylon says:

    “Seminal event”? Really?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Pylon: You beat me to it, but I was going to correct their spelling: Semenal event.

  3. Kathy says:

    How many world leaders do you think have instructed their assistants to say, “I’m sorry mister Trump, the president/prime minister/dictator, chancellor/supreme leader is not available right now. Would you care to leave a message? I’m sure they’ll get back to your as soon as they are out of office. Thank you.”

  4. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Either that or they put him on speakerphone and gather everyone into the office to listen ‘n’ laff.

  5. drj says:


    How many world leaders do you think have instructed their assistants to say, “I’m sorry mister Trump, the president/prime minister/dictator, chancellor/supreme leader is not available right now.


    Because there is a good chance that a little bit of flattery and self-humiliation can get you what you want from the leader of the most powerful country on earth.

    Trump is extremely easily played. Also, he can probably be bought for the price of a stay in one of his hotels. That’s as cheap as it gets.

  6. Nickel Front says:

    Any excuse to drag Monica thru the mud again, but ok Respecters of Women.

  7. DrDaveT says:

    @Nickel Front:

    Any excuse to drag Monica thru the mud again, but ok Respecters of Women.

    You seem to be extremely confused about who coined this nickname, and who is using it. Which is odd, given that the story above explicitly tells you these things.

  8. Gustopher says:

    It’s really unfair to Monica. She just wanted intimate access to the scepter of power, there was no money exchanged. Consenting adults making bad decisions, with no quid pro quo.

    Zelensky was mentioning that he (or his people) was sticking money in Trump’s coffers, and wanted things of material value in return.

    I applaud Zelensky for his willingness to humiliate himself for his country — is there a greater patriotism? — but the comparison to Monica Lewinsky is a bit mean.

    Plus, Zelensky is old enough to understand what he is doing.

  9. Kathy says:

    I’m just gonna leave this here:

    According to The Guardian, Iran’s Rouhani refused to talk with Trump on the phone when he was in NYC for the UN General Assembly.