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.
Clinton, of course, had an affair with a White House intern, which is what led Congress to launch its investigation at the time. History buffs will recall that while Clinton was impeached by the House, he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate and not removed from office. (If that sounds confusing to you, you can read up on the impeachment process here.) Monica Lewinsky, the name of the intern, however, has gone down in infamy and is now the source of the Ukraine president’s new nickname: Monica Zelensky.
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 ”
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