Tuesday, May 31, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt nine)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

I first met Einstein in 1926, when he came to California to lecture. I have a theory that scientists and philosophers are sublimated romanticists who channel their passions in another direction. This theory fitted well the personality of Einstein. He looked the typical Alpine German in the nicest sense, jovial and friendly. And although his manner was calm and gentle, I felt it concealed a highly emotional temperament, and that from this source came his extraordinary intellectual energy.

Carl Laemmle of the Universal studios phoned to say that Professor Einstein would like to meet me. I was thrilled. So we met at the Universal studios for lunch, the Professor, his wife, his secretary, Helene Dukas, and his Assistant Professor, Walter Meyer. Mrs Einstein spoke English very well, in fact better than the Professor. She was a square-framed woman with abundant vitality; she frankly enjoyed being the wife of the great man and made no attempt to hide the fact; her enthusiasm was endearing.

After lunch, while Mr Laemmle showed them around the studio, Mrs Einstein drew me aside and whispered: ‘Why don’t you invite the Professor to your house? I know he would be delighted to have a nice quiet chat with just ourselves.’ As Mrs Einstein had requested it would be a small affair, I invited only two other friends. At dinner she told me the story of the morning he conceived the theory of relativity.

Monday, May 30, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt eight)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

Back in Beverly Hills, I received an invitation to meet Gertrude Stein at the house of a friend of mine. When I arrived, Miss Stein was seated on a chair in the centre of the drawing-room, dressed in brown, wearing a lace collar, her hands on her lap. For some reason she looked like Van Gogh’s portrait of Madam Roulin, only instead of red hair with a bun on top Gertrude had short-cropped brown hair.

The guests stood around at a respectful distance, forming a circle. A lady-in-waiting whispered something to Gertrude, then came to me. ‘Miss Gertrude Stein would like to meet you.’ I hopped forward. There was little opportunity to talk at that moment because others were arriving and waiting to be introduced.

At lunch the hostess placed me next to her and in some way or other we got on to the subject of art. I believe it started by my admiring the view from the dining-room window. But Gertrude showed little enthusiasm. ‘Nature,’ she said, ‘is commonplace; imitation is more interesting.’ She enlarged on this thesis, stating that imitation marble looked more beautiful than the real thing, and that a Turner sunset was lovelier than any real sky. Although these pronouncesments were rather derivative, I politely agreed with her.

She theorized about cinema plots: ‘They are too hackneyed, complicated and contrived.’ She would like to see me in a movie just walking up the street and turning a corner, then another corner, and another. I thought of saying that her idea was a paraphrase of that mystic emphasis of hers: ‘Rose is a rose is a rose’ – but an instinct stopped me.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt seven)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

During the filming of The Gold Rush I married for the second time. Because we have two grown sons of whom I am very fond, I will not go into any details. For two years we were married and tried to make a go of it, but it was hopeless and ended in a great deal of bitterness.

The Gold Rush opened at the Strand Theatre in New York and I attended its première. From the moment the film started, showing me blithely rounding a precipice unconscious of a bear following, the audience yelled and applauded. Throughout the laughter there was sporadic applause till the end of the picture. Hiram Abrams, the United Artists sales manager, later came up and embraced me. ‘Charlie, I guarantee that it will gross at least six million dollars’ – and it did!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt six)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

With the rest of them I was intellectually a fellow-traveller. Since my vaudeville days I have done a considerable amount of reading, but not thoroughly. Being a slow reader, I browse. Once I am familiar with the thesis and the style of an author, I invariably lose interest. I have read every word of five volumes of Plutarch’s Lives; but I found them less edifying than the effort was worth. I read judiciously; some books over and over again. Over the years I have browsed through Plato, Locke, Kant, Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and in this piecemeal fashion I have gleaned as much as I have wanted.

In the village I met Waldo Frank, essayist, historian and novelist, Hart Crane, the poet, Max Eastman, editor of The Masses, Dudley Field Malone, brilliant lawyer and controller of the Port of New York, and his wife Margaret Foster, the suffragette. I also lunched at Christine’s Restaurant, where I met several members of the Provincetown Players, who regularly lunched there during rehearsals of Emperor Jones, a drama written by a young playwright, Eugene O’Neill (later my father-in-law). I was shown over their theatre, a barnlike affair no bigger than a six-horse stable.

Friday, May 27, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt five)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

At the beginning of the First World War, popular opinion was that it would not last more than four months, that the science of modern warfare would take such a ghastly toll of human life that mankind would demand cessation of such barbarism. But we were mistaken. We were caught in an avalanche of mad destruction and brutal slaughter that went on for four years to the bewilderment of humanity. We had started a haemorrhage of world proportion, and we could not stop it. Hundreds of thousands of human beings were fighting and dying and the people began wanting to know the reason why, and how the war started. Explanations were not too clear. Some said it was due to the assassination of an archduke; but this was hardly a reason for such a world conflagration. People needed a more realistic explanation. They they said it was a war to make the world safe for democracy. Though some had less to fight for than others, the casualties were grimly democratic. As millions were mowed down the word ‘democracy’ loomed up. Consequently thrones toppled, republics were formed, and the whole face of Europe was changed.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt four)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

A few days later, at the Alexandria Bar, I overheard Ford giving his description of my character to our mutual friend Elmer Ellsworth: ‘The guy has baggy pants, flat feet, the most miserable, bedraggled-looking little bastard you ever saw; makes itchy gestures as though he’s got crabs under his arms – but he’s funny.’

My character was different and unfamiliar to the American, and even unfamiliar to myself. But with the clothes on I felt he was a reality, a living person. In fact he ignited all sorts of crazy ideas that I would never have dreamt of until I was dressed and made up as the Tramp.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt three)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

As usual I lived alone. But it had its advantages, because it gave me an opportunity to improve my mind, a resolution I had held for many months but never fulfilled.

There is a fraternity of those who passionately want to know. I was one of them. But my motives were not so pure; I wanted to know, not for the love of knowledge but as a defence against the world’s contempt for the ignorant. So when I had time I browsed around the second-hand bookshops.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt two)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

Through this haze and confusion I lived alone. Whores, sluts and an occasional drinking bout weaved in and out of this period, but neither wine, women nor song held my interest for long. I really wanted romance and adventure.

I can well understand the psychological attitude of the teddy boy with his Edwardian dress; like all of us he wants attention, romance and drama in his life. Why should he not indulge in moments of exhibitionism and horseplay, as does the public-school boy with his gadding and ragging? Is it not natural that when he sees the so-called better classes asserting their foppery he wants to assert his own?

Monday, May 23, 2022

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography by Charie Chaplin, excerpt one)

from My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin:

Winter was approaching and Sydney ran out of clothes; so Mother made him a coat from her old velvet jacket. It had red and black striped sleeves, pleated at the shoulders, which Mother did her best to get rid of, but with little success. Sydney wept when he was made to wear it: ‘What will the boys at school think?’

‘Who cares what people think?’ she said. ‘Besides, it looks very distinguished.’ Mother had such a persuasive way that Sydney to this day has never understood why he ever submitted to wearing it. But he did, and the coat and a pair of Mother’s cut-down high-heeled shoes got him into many a fight at school. The boys called him ‘Joseph and his coat of many colours’. And I, with a pair of Mother’s red tights cut down for stockings (which looked as though they were pleated), was called ‘Sir Francis Drake’.

At the depth of this dolorous period, Mother began to develop migraine headaches and was forced to give up her needlework, and for days was obliged to lie in a dark room with tea-leaf bandages over her eyes. Picasso had a blue period. We had a grey one, in which we lived on parochial charity, soup tickets and relief parcels. Nevertheless, Sydney sold newspapers between school hours, and though his contribution was less than a drop in the bucket, it did give a modicum of aid. But in every crisis there is always a climax–in our case this crisis was a happy one.

One day while Mother was recovering, with a bandage still over her eyes, Sydney came bursting into the darkened room, throwing his newspapers on the bed and exclaiming: ‘I’ve found a purse!’ He handed it to Mother. When she opened it she saw a pile of silver and copper coins. Quickly she closed it, then fell back on the bed from excitement.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt seven)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

When Andreas set foot on the street outside, he felt the world had been freshly painted and renovated, he no longer felt at home in it; just as you feel like a stranger when you return to your room and it’s been painted a different color. The movements of people, vehicles, and dogs were all strange and baffling to him. Particularly odd was the swarming of bicycles on a busy square, like light-colored mosquitoes in among the big buses and trams, trucks, and black-covered hackney cabs. A vibrant yellow vehicle swaggered, rattled, and surged across the square. On its side was the burning red legend: ‘Smoke Iota Cigarettes.’ It was the van of insanity. Insantiy sat inside it, surrounded by four vibrant yellow and burning red walls, and his breath wafted destructively out of the little barred windows. Strange that it’s taken me until now to see the connections, thinks Andreas. That car spreads the germ of insanity through the world. That car has driven past me thousands of times. How stupid of me! It was never a mail van! What would the post office be doing with Iota cigarettes? What does the post office care about what cigarettes people smoke?

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt six)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

‘Can we talk about it tomorrow?’ said Andreas.

‘You’re a fool,’ said Croaky. ‘You’ve done everything wrong. If I was you, I’d have sued the gentleman. You just need to know the ropes. I would have beaten him up and then sued him. What did he look like? Maybe I’ll run into him sometime. The world is round and not all that big.’

Monday, May 16, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt five)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

How long has it been that we could no longer set one foot silently in front of the other? Each one of our strides resounds and echoes. Our approach is noisy, and our going away is a clatter. We are forever surrounded by din. The crutch punches holes in our thoughts. People on two legs overtake us.

The two-legged are our enemies. The gentleman on the platform with the squishy nose has two legs. The rowdy conductor has two legs. The disrespectful policeman has two legs. The police inspector with the pointy chin has two legs. Katharina has two legs. The apple-checked Death who called for Mooli has two legs. All the ‘heathens’ have two legs.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt four)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

Luigi Bernotat seemed to have been waiting for the question. Like an actor hearing his cue, he embarked slowly and confidently on a speech, with pauses for effect and occasional very rapid passages for contrast, and his voice so compelled its listener that after a short time he was only listening to the rising and falling tone, without thinking of interrupting.

‘I suppose,’ said Luigi Bernotat, ‘you take me for a blackmailer? Ach, what else could you think? People of your sort are bound to believe that every man’s honor has its price. Well, mine doesn’t! Not mine, Herr Arnold. You yourself will admit the rashness of what you attempted. There are still courts, thankfully. You never imagined an artist would be so persnickety. You’d never have laid a finger on the betrothed of a business associate of yours, or a lawyer’s, or a student’s or an officer’s. I mean to teach you that an artist’s fiancée is not there for the taking either. I might have challenged you to a duel, but for the fact that I belong to an anti-dueling society. And don’t make the mistake of supposing I’m a coward. I have a reputation. You will have heard of Martin Popovics, the wind artist. I slapped his face twice for a stupid joke he made. I’m an amateur boxer. As you see, I’m not a coward. But I won’t betray my principles either. The most important thing in life is to be true to oneself. Now you be true to yourself, and take the consequences!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt three)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

The street is our enemy. It really is as it appears to us, sheer and uphill. We only don’t notice it when we stride along it. In winter, through – so the newspapers tell us – the porters and shop attendants, the ones who chase us out of buildings and courtyards, and throw hard words after us, forget to strew ashes or sand on the ice, and we fall, robbed of our mobility by the cold.

Friday, May 13, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt two)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

There was gruel, as there always was on Sundays. The invalids intoned their regular Sunday complaint: gruel is boring. But Andreas didn’t find it at all boring. He raised the bowl to his lips and drank it down, having vainly trawled through it with his spoon a couple of times. The others looked on, and hesistantly followed his example. He kept the bowl at his lips a long time, and peered over the edge of it at his comrades. He saw that they liked the gruel, too, and their complaining had been all for show. They’re heathens! crowed Andres to himself, and he put his bowl down.

The dried vegetables, which the others called ‘barbed wire,’ were less to his liking. Nevertheless, he finished his plate. It gave him the satisfying feeling of having done his duty, as though he had polished up his rusty rifle. He regretted that there was no NCO on hand to inspect the plates. His plate was as clean as his conscience. A sunbeam struck the china, and it gleamed. It looked like a check mark from Heaven.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt one)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

Only Andreas Pum was content with things as they were. He had lost a leg and been given a medal. There were many who had no medal, even though they had lost more than merely a leg. They had lost both arms or both legs. Or they would be bedridden for the rest of their lives, because there was something the matter with their spinal fluid. Andreas Pum rejoiced when he saw the sufferings of the others.

He believed in a just god. One who handled out shrapnel, amputations, and medals to the deserving. Viewed in the correct light, the loss of a leg wasn’t so very bad, and the joy of receiving a medal was considerable. An invalid might enjoy the respect of the world. An invalid with a medal could depend on that of the government.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt ten)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

Returning to the kitchen, Viktor ate two boiled eggs, drank tea, and got out the typewriter from under the table. Sticking out of it was an unfinished obelisk on a certain Bondarenko, Director of Broadway Private Funeral Services. He smiled at the bitter irony of it. He could imagine how professional his funeral would be, with colleagues standing decorously beside a splendid, gilt-handled coffin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt nine)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

As before, Nina kept Sonya amused during the day, sometimes at home, sometimes out and about, leaving Viktor on his own. But at night they were reunited, and knowing that neither love nor passion came into it, he still found arms and body anticipating that time with eagerness. Embracing, caressing Nina, making love, he became oblivious of himself. The warmth of her body seemed to be that very spring he so looked forward to. And then, in the small hours, with Nina asleep and breathing gently, he lay open-eyed, with the curiously comfortable sensation of leading an ordered, normal life–for which the essential requisites: wife, child, pet penguin, were present; and obviously artificial as this foursome was, Viktor shut his eyes to this fact for the sake of his feeling of comfort and a temporary illusion of happiness. But who could say? Maybe his happiness was not as illusory as the sober thoughts of morning suggested. But what, at night, were the thoughts of the morning? The very alternation of nocturnal happiness with morning common sense, and the constancy of it, seemed to prove that he was, at one and the same time, both happy and clear-thinking. So that all was well and life worth living.

Monday, May 9, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt eight)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

The thaw had made the pavements treacherous, and on his way to the October Hospital he had several falls, the last of them on the steps of Oncology.

Ward 5, which he located unaided, was huge, like a school gymnasium. To some extent, and probably by reason of the strict alternation of beds and bedside tables, it was like a barracks. Not a nurse was to be seen. A sour medicinal odour pervaded the place. Some beds were screened off.

After a good look round he spotted Pidpaly, lying staring at the ceiling, on a bed by a window. His head seemed to have shrunk.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt seven)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

The year that was ending had brought much that was strange into his life. And it was ending strangely, engendering mixed feelings and thoughts. Loneliness had given way to a kind of semi-loneliness, a kind of semi-dependence. His own sluggish life force had borne him as on a wave to a strange island, where suddenly he had acquired responsibilities and money to discharge them. Remaining, in the process, remote from events and even from life itself, he had made no effort to grasp what was taking place around him. Until recently, with the arrival of Sonya. And even now, life around him was still dangerously unfathomable, as if he had missed the actual moment when the nature of events might have been fathomed.

His world was now him, Penguin Misha and Sonya, but so vulnerable did it seem, this little world, that should anything happen, it would be beyond his power to protect it. Not for lack of a weapon or karate skills, but simply because, containing no genuine attachment, no sense of unity, no woman, it was too ready to crumble. Sonya was someone else’s little girl temporarily in his care, his penguin was sickly and sad, and under no obligation to show gratitude doggy-fashion, wagging his tail after fresh-frozen fish.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt six)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

With this batch completed, he was struck for the first time by the thought that only one of his obituaries–an unplanned one-had had as subject an unsullied victim, with no fact or hint suggestive of a dubious past. Yuliya Parkhomenko, the singer, was who he had in mind. But now he had his doubts. He recalled the allusion to involvement in the disappearance of another artiste … And her love for the late Yakornitsky … No. The pure and sinless did not exist, or else died unnoticed and with no obituary. The idea seemed persuasive. Those who merited obituaries had usually achieved things, fought for their ideals, and when locked in battle, it wasn’t easy to remain entirely honest and upright. Today’s battles were all for material gain, anyway. The crazy idealist was extinct–-survived by the crazy pragmatist …

Friday, May 6, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt five)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

The other papers, he noticed, devoted far less space to the war than Capital News. Against that, there was a little more about the death of the singer, whose body had been discovered in the early hours at the lower funicular station. She had been strangled with a leather belt. Furthermore, her architect husband had vanished and their flat was in disorder, having evidently been ransacked in search of something.

Viktor pondered. The singer’s death had, on the face of it, nothing to do with clan warfare. A completely extraneous crime, in fact. The missing husband might have had a hand in it. And--the thought horrified him-–so might he, having referred to her in his Yakornitsky obituary. He had not named her, of course, but for many a nod was as good as a wink, and that might have been the last straw for hubby …

Thursday, May 5, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt four)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

Working from home, he had lost any sense of distinction between working and non-working days: working if he felt like it, or not, if he didn’t. Mostly though, he did feel like it. It was just that he had nothing further to work on. As to writing stories, starting a novella or even a novel, that had not come off. It was as if he had found his genre and was so constrained by its limits that even when not writing obelisks, he was thinking obelisks, or thoughts so elegant and attuned to mourning that they could be slotted, by way of a philosophical digression, into any obituary--and sometimes were.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt three)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

Here, on the broad arm beside him, was where, just over a year ago, petite blonde Olya, of attractive little snub nose and perpetually reproachful expression, was wont to perch. Sometimes she would rest her head on his shoulder and fall asleep, plunging into dreams in which he, very likely, had no place. Only in reality was he allowed to be present. Though even there, he rarely felt needed. Silent and thoughtful–that was her. What, since her pushing off without a word, had altered? Standing beside him now was Misha the penguin. He was silent, but was he thoughtful too? What did being thoughtful amount to? Just a word describing the way one looked, perhaps?

He leant forward, searching the penguin’s tiny eyes for signs of thoughtfulness, but saw only sadness.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt two)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

He had dreamt once of writing novels, but had not achieved so much as a novella, in spite of all the unfinished manuscripts lying around in folders. But unfinished they were fated to remain, he having been unlucky with his muses, they, for some reason, having never tarried long enough in his two-room flat to see him through a short story. Hence his literary failure. They had been amazingly fickle, his muses. Or he had been at fault for picking such unreliable ones. But now, alone with his penguin, here he was, churning out little pieces regardless, and getting well paid.

Warm at last, he left the café. It was still drizzling. Still a grey, wet day.

Before returning to his flat, he dropped into a shop and bought a kilo of frozen salmon–for Misha.

Monday, May 2, 2022

the last book I ever read (Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov, excerpt one)

from Death and the Penguin (Melville International Crime) by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird):

Misha-non-penguin left. The grey, rainy morning dragged on. The door opened, and there stood Penguin Misha. After a moment he came over and snuggled against his master’s knee. Dear creature, thought Viktor, stroking him.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

the last book I ever read (Serhy Yekelchyk's Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know, excerpt fourteen)

from Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know by Serhy Yekelchyk:

Zelensky, however, had been swept to power on a wave of popular discontent with precisely such backroom politicking. His hastily assembled team had few experienced political hands, but its members understood the need to project an image of transparent governance. Before the March 2019 election Zelensky’s campaign managers were unaware of the difficult problem in US-Ukrainian relations they were about to inherit from Poroshenko. When Giuliani first contacted Prosecutor General Lutsenko about the Bidens and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election, one can safely assume that President Poroshenko knew about this and likely authorized Lutsenko to meet with Giuliani in person in New York in January 2019. Moreover, Poroshenko himself met with Giuliani twice in early 2019. The Ukrainian president retroactively acknowledged the meetings but avoided questions about what was discussed there, other than American assistance with Ukrainian cybersecurity—a strange topic to discuss with a person holding no official position in the US administration. According to Parnas, Giuliani offered Trump’s support for Poroshenko’s re-election bid, complete with a visit to the White House, in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens and Ukraine’s alleged role in 2016.

After Zelensky took an impressive lead in the first round on March 31, members of the Poroshenko team started fighting for their political survival. Prosecutor General Lutsenko, who had the lowest chance of remaining in office, took a desperate gamble by denouncing publicly the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, for allegedly impeding his fight against corruption. In his trademark populist style, Lutsenko claimed that Yovanovitch had given him a “do-not-prosecute” list of Ukrainian officials—a statement he would eventually retract. Lutsenko intended to demonstrate his usefulness to Trump, but instead he alerted the Zelensky team to the conflicting signals from Washington. Trump’s removal of Yovanovitch in late April 2019, right after Zelensky’s sweeping runoff victory, put the American dilemma at the top of the new president’s agenda.