Andriy Derkach, an independent member of Ukraine’s parliament, said at a press conference on Tuesday that he had received recorded phone call conversations between presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, then-vice president in the Obama administration, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, which Derkach reportedly played at the press conference.
The Washington Post reported that the “recordings of private phone calls between former vice president Joe Biden and former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko” were “a new broadside against the presumptive Democratic nominee for U.S. president.”
The Post reports that Derkach has past links to Russian intelligence and that he claimed that the tapes were made by Poroshenko. The Post noted that the clips consisted of “edited fragments of phone conversations [between] Biden and Poroshenko” but did not dispute that the clips were authentic.
The Post said that recordings “shed relatively little new light on Biden’s actions in Ukraine,” which were hotly contested last year.
However, one particular exchange stood out as being potentially newsworthy.
It was widely reported last year that Biden bragged to a group of people in 2018 that he threatened Poroshenko that if he did not fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was on the board of, that the U.S. would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees from Ukraine.
In one of the audio clips that Derkach allegedly released dated February 18, 2016, Poroshenko appeared to tell Biden [emphasis added]:
I have some positive and negative news. I will start with positive news. … Yesterday, I met with the General Prosecutor Shokin. And despite the fact that we didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information about him doing something wrong, I specifically asked him – no, it was a day before yesterday – I specifically asked him to resign … as his position as a state person. And despite of the fact that he has a support in the power and as a finish of meeting with him, he promised me to give me the statement on resignation. And one hour ago he bring me the written statement of his resignation. And this is my second step for keeping my promises.
USA Today reported last year that, according to former Obama administration officials and an anti-corruption advocate in Ukraine, the reason that Biden pushed for Shokin to be fired was that “Shokin wasn’t pursuing corruption among the country’s politicians.” The Post cites a scandal that “erupted under [Shokin’s] watch in which prosecutors were found with bags of diamonds and stashes of cash” and Shokin having “clashed with two young prosecutors whom Western officials hoped would clean up what has long been a corrupt office.”
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates responded to the release of the tapes by claiming, “They heavily edited this, and it’s still a nothingburger that landed with a thud.”
Here is how The Post summarized the aforementioned phone call:
In one call, Poroshenko reported to Biden that he had met with Shokin and asked for his resignation and that Shokin had, an hour before the call, complied and written a letter resigning from his post. Poroshenko described the move as the “second step of keeping my promises.”
The Post did not mention that Poroshenko allegedly told Biden that he didn’t “have any information about [Shokin] doing something wrong” when he asked Shokin to resign from his position, which Biden had said must happen in order for Ukraine to get the $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
It is not clear whether there is any missing context or comments in the alleged remarks that Poroshenko made to Biden that could change the meaning of what was said between the two.
President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., highlighted another leaked audio clip that allegedly showed portions of a private phone call between Biden and Poroshenko from a conversation that supposedly took place on May 13, 2016. Transcript of that clip below:
THEN-VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Hey Mr. President, Joe Biden. How are you?
THEN-UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO: Very well indeed, as usual, when I hear your voice. Thank you very much.
BIDEN: Well you are doing very well, congratulations on getting the new Prosecutor General. I know there is a lot more that has to be done, but I really, I really think that’s, I think that’s good. And I understand your working with Rada in the coming days on a number of additional laws to secure the IMF. But congratulations on installing the new Prosecutor General, it’s going to be critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage Shokin did. And I’m a man of my word and now that the new Prosecutor General is in place, we’re ready to forward to signing that new $1 billion loan guarantee. And I don’t know how you want to go about that. I’m not going to be able to get to Kyiv anytime soon, I mean, next month or so. And, and I don’t know whether you could either sign it with our ambassador or if you came here, we could sign or if you want, we’re inviting Groysman here later. I’m going to be talking to him later this morning, not for that purpose, we’re inviting him to Washington and so I’ll leave it up to you as to how you want that done and when you want it done.
POROSHENKO: First of all, thank you very much indeed for these words of support. Believe me, that it was a very tough challenge and a very difficult job and Mrs. Tymoshenko and Mr. Lyashko fraction tried to break this because we not only voted for the new Prosecutor General, which we do in a very short period of time, within one day we changed the law. By the way, in this law we are presenting the set, the new structure of the General Prosecutor’s Office, including the General Inspection as we agreed with you. And the second thing, I immediately invited Lutsenko and said that he should contact your embassy and I would be very pleased if you will have certain person, who can come either from Washington or whatever. We have here – I don’t remember his name – the Ukrainian origin American prosecutor. He is a little bit old. I sent to the Jeffrey his name, and he was ready to come and to be assistant and adviser. He has a very good experience in the American system and he can be the person of trust within new prosecution system. I think this is exactly the right time to do that. And if he’s still ready to come and to cooperate from the very first step, from the very first minute of the new Prosecutor, that is exactly what I’m looking for.
BIDEN: Well, let me, let me get in contact with the Justice Department and pursue that. I’ll get his name and let me find out where that is, because it is in our interest, obviously, to provide professional assistance as quick as we can. So this gets up and started it in the right direction. So, I will move on that as soon as we hang up. I’ll put that in train and I’ll get back to you as to what we are, what I am able to do.
POROSHENKO: Absolutely. Second, thank you very much indeed, this is exactly what I am looking for. The second thing is that I want to thank you that you give me your word that immediately when we change the legislation and I appoint the new Prosecutor General, and it would be Yuriy Lutsenko as we agreed on our previous meeting in Washington and when it happen, we can have this loan guarantee and thank you very much…
Yikes!!!! This is not a “perfect conversation”
An audio recording of a conversation between Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko on May 13, 2016 – YouTube https://t.co/7R2YxzDpGM
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 19, 2020
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