Audio recordings released by Ukrainian MP Andrii Derkach allegedly offer confirmation that Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire an attorney general in exchange for a billion-dollar loan.
Former top Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin filed a criminal complaint in January, alleging that Biden had strong-armed Poroshenko into firing him while he was running multiple investigations into the Burisma gas company where Biden’s son Hunter was a board member.
Biden himself has boasted publicly that he gave Poroshenko an ultimatum to fire Shokin or the offer of the $1 billion in loan guarantees would be rescinded – but the audio recordings, if they are legitimate, add new clarity to the controversy surrounding Shokin’s dismissal.
Andrii Derkach, the independent MP who released the recordings, claims he received the audio files from investigative journalists and that they were recorded by Poroshenko himself.
“If there is a new government and a new prosecutor general, I am prepared to do a public signing of the commitments for the billion dollars,” Biden appears to say in a recording from March 22, 2016.
“I’m not suggesting that’s what you want or don’t want, I’m just suggesting that that’s what we’re prepared to do,” Biden added, as if to deflect from the fact that the offer was a quid pro quo – one billion dollars for the firing of Shokin.
Poroshenko responded that this was “extremely strong motivation” to do what the US administration was asking and named Yuriy Lutsenko (who later took over) as a possible replacement for Shokin. In a signal that the new prosecutor would need to be approved by Washington, Poroshenko said he would not tap Lutsenko for the job if Biden did not think he was appropriate.
A readout of the call posted on the US embassy’s website said the two men discussed a range of issues, but there was no mention of Shokin or the prosecutor general’s position.
In a later conversation on May 13, Biden tells Poroshenko: “I’m a man of my word, and now that a new prosecutor general is in place, we’re ready to move forward and sign that one billion dollar loan guarantee.”
In his complaint against the former US VP, Shokin said Biden “curtailed an objective investigation” into Burisma by having him fired.
Biden, backed up by mainstream US media, has claimed that investigations into Burisma were “dormant” by the time he was lobbying for Shokin’s ouster and insisted that his only concern was that Ukraine had an effective prosecutor general.
Shokin has denied that the investigations were dormant and said that multiple probes into the gas company were still active at the time of his resignation. His claims are backed up by French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, who compiled documents which he says prove that the investigations were still ongoing.
Ironically, while Biden has faced no repercussions for his efforts to interfere with criminal investigations in a foreign country using US money as leverage, President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for “abuse of power” after Democrats accused him of pressuring Kiev to restart investigations into Burisma while withholding military aid from the country.
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