Trump began bilateral meeting with Zelensky by complaining about not having his Diet Coke: book
Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald Trump (AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was one of many international leaders forced to tangle with former President Donald Trump in his four years at the White House. Even he, however, couldn't have been prepared for Trump's Diet Coke addiction.

Trump infamously had a button installed on the White House desk that would command a staffer bring him his favorite soda. But in Stephanie Grisham's new book, I'll Take Your Questions Now, Trump was cracking jokes about bribery while meeting with Zelensky at the UN General Assembly in 2019.

It was months into the scandal and before the congressional investigation and impeachment when Trump was on the defense, he was focused on not getting his customary cola.

"Why no Diet Coke for me?" Trump asked, according to the book. "Then he turned to President Zelensky. 'It's probably because everyone would call it a bribe,' he said with annoyance. They briefly touched on the now-infamous phone call. Trump asked Zelensky, 'Can you believe all the hype about this?'"

She went on to describe Zelensky as being "visibly irritated" by the scandal, though she confessed she wasn't sure if he was putting on an act for Trump's sake.

In his book, Here, Right Matters, Alexander Vindman gave a moment-by-moment account of the call as he heard it with the rest of the national security staff.

"I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine," Vindman said he heard Trump tell Zelensky. "We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time, much more than the European countries are doing, and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you."

Vindman was taking notes of the call while listening in with the rest of the staff. When Trump asked for the favor, he recalled stopping. He explained that he was "growing more unsettled," but started taking notes again. "The other thing," Trump then said, rattling off the conspiracy about Biden's son. He was shocked.

"My glance around the table confirmed that I wasn't the only one taking in what was happening," the book said. He recalled his new boss, a lawyer, with his eyes darting around to everyone else in the room. It was his understanding that even Zelensky understood the request wasn't normal.