Through weeks of impeachment hearings and investigation, the
From the moment of his landslide victory last April, comedian-turned-president
It would be a quick win, he thought, and more importantly send a message to his Russian adversaries that the
"It's just the optics," diplomat
It wasn't just Zelenskiy who was intent on a
The push for a
On its face, an
"It was important for him, because he wanted to let
Over the nearly three years of his presidency, Trump has flattered and cajoled dozens of foreign leaders with meetings at the
His hearty, white-knuckled handshake with
For Zelenskiy, a
"Even though we may throw those around like candy, they didn't read it as that," said
Trump has long harbored unproven suspicions that
Uncertainty about Trump's commitment to
It was a starkly cooler reception than Trump gave Russian Foreign Minister
Zelenskiy's prospects with the Americans became increasingly complicated as Trump administration officials eventually put a hold on the release of
Diplomats saw a sit-down between Trump and Zelenskiy as crucial to improving relations between the two nations. Their long effort to make it happen has been laid out in testimony before the impeachment investigators.
"We hoped that such a meeting would help undo
Sondland, for his part, told investigators that he and other members of a delegation to Zelenskiy's inauguration in May told
But Trump said he was skeptical that
"I was kind of pissed, actually," he added, laying out the bind facing diplomats.
"Based on the President's direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a
Sondland, however, was surprised that days after Trump pushed back against the advice to host Ukrainian leader, Trump "sent essentially an unconditional invitation to
At a July conference in
"The Ukrainians remained focused on scheduling a
Trump and Zelenskiy did eventually meet in September on the sidelines of the
"You invited me, but I think — I'm sorry. ... But I think you forgot to tell me the date," Zelenskiy told Trump.
Trump said his staff would be in touch.