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Trump heads to UN as Ukraine whistleblower controversy swirls


President Trump is facing a swirling controversy over the bombshell revelation that he sought help from Ukraine to smear Joe Biden as he heads to the United Nations for a three-day trip featuring meetings with world leaders.

The president also faces pressure from his ongoing trade war with China and the slowing world economy as he returns to his hometown for a rare visit.

And there’s fallout from the attack on Saudi Arabian oil fields that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson now blames on Iran.

“He needs to win over traditional allies to do what traditional allies do, to band together against common threats,” said Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The UN General Assembly would normally be a ideal platform for a president to show off his leadership skills and to rise above the tumult of petty political disputes on the home front. But Trump has few friends on the international stage, making it much harder to win support.

His last two UN speeches are exhibit A and B of how things can go embarrassingly awry.

Two years ago, he used the high profile platform to deride North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as a dangerous “Rocket Man” posing an existential nuclear threat to world security. Months later, he was swooning over Kim and declaring the nuclear threat gone after an ego-boosting summit.

Last year, Trump faced open laughter from world leaders when he tried to tout his accomplishments, which are taken with more than a grain of salt overseas.

This time, the Ukraine scandal could overshadow everything.

A planned meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Volodmyr Zelensky will come just days after revelations that the president urged his Ukrainian counterpart in a July phone call to investigate the activities of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Democrats portray his actions as a shameless effort to use his foreign policy power to dig up damaging material on a potential 2020 rival

Trump has insisted there was his conversation with Zelensky was “absolutely perfect.” But he has refused to release a transcript or turn over the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress.

The dispute has fanned the flames of impeachment, and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned the Trump probe is entering a dangerous new stage.