Thursday, April 12, 2018

"When a Russian President Ended Up Drunk and Disrobed Outside the White House"

Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin had a weird relationship. There was the time the Russian president gave the U.S. president a pair of hockey jerseys that said “Yeltsin 96” and “Clinton 96.” There was also the time Clinton doubled over laughing when Yeltsin called the U.S. press “a disaster” at a press conference.

But perhaps the weirdest incident in their professional relationship was when Yeltsin got drunk and wandered into the street in his underwear, trying to get a pizza.

The incident happened during Yeltsin and Clinton’s first meeting in Washington in September 1994. Although there were glancing media reports about it over the years, it wasn’t widely reported on until 2009, when author Taylor Branch published his book The Clinton Tapes, based on his interviews with the president.

“Secret Service agents discovered Yeltsin alone on Pennsylvania Avenue, dead drunk, clad in his underwear, yelling for a taxi,” Branch wrote in his book. “Yeltsin slurred his words in a loud argument with the baffled agents. He did not want to go back into Blair House, where he was staying. He wanted a taxi to go out for pizza.”

When Branch asked Clinton how the situation ended, the president shrugged and said, “Well, he got his pizza.” But the next night, Clinton recalled, Yeltsin tried to do it again.

“Eluding security, he made his way down the back stairs into the Blair House basement, where a building guard mistook him for a drunken intruder,” Branch wrote. “Yeltsin was briefly endangered until converging Russian and American agents sorted out everyone’s affiliation.” Because the guards mistook him for an intruder, “Clinton thought this incident, although contained within Blair House, exposed even greater risk than the pizza quest.”...MORE
U.S. President Bill Clinton breaking into laughter after Russian President Boris Yeltsin made a comment 
about journalists at a news conference in Hyde Park, New York on October 23, 1995. 
(Credit: Jim McKnight/AP Photo)