President Donald Trump has retweeted purported leaked audio of an alleged 2016 telephone conversation between Petro Poroshenko and Joe Biden, with the Ukrainian president telling the US vice president that he has “a second positive news for you,” and revealing that he had met with Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and asked him to resign at Washington’s request.
Shokin had been investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company which hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter to its board of directors in April 2014, shortly after the installation of a pro-Western government in Kiev, over allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.
Feb.18, 2016 phone conversation between Biden and Poroshenko— Walt Kowalski 🇺🇸 (@OldManKowalski) August 12, 2020
Listen to Poroshenko admit: Shokin was not corrupt. There were no corruption charges or information about him doing something wrong. He had support "in the power" (the majority).pic.twitter.com/yBoehZ2Cf3
In the audio clip retweeted by Trump, the voice said to be Poroshenko’s says: “Yesterday, I met with the General Prosecutor Shokin. And despite of the fact that we didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information about him doing something wrong, I specially asked him…to resign.”
“And as a finish of my 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,” Poroshenko adds.
“Great,” the voice on the other end, purported to be Biden’s, says.
“And this is my second step for keeping my promises,” Poroshenko says. “I agree,” Biden says.
In one of the recordings, Biden allegedly tells Poroshenko that the US would not provide Kiev with $1 billion in loan guarantee assistance unless Shokin was sacked.
The Biden campaign has not denied that the voice in the recordings was that of the former vice president, but has alleged that the tapes may have been “heavily edited,” and called them a “nothingburger.”
The alleged $1 billion quid-pro-quo later became a national scandal, but for Donald Trump, instead of Biden, with Democratic lawmakers accusing the president of threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine unless then newly-elected President Volodymyr Zelensky restarted the Biden-Burisma probe. Trump maintained that he had done nothing wrong, and was cleared following a weeks-long House impeachment probe and Senate trial earlier this year.
The Biden family similarly denies having done anything wrong, and maintains that there is no evidence to suggest that Hunter Biden’s $50,000-a-month no-show job at Burisma was a payoff in exchange for access to the Obama White House, as claimed by some Republicans.
In late May, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, President Poroshenko’s former assistant, told Sputnik Deutschland that he was the one who recorded Poroshenko’s conversations with US officials, and originally planned to reveal them at a press conference in Washington in late 2019 before being detained and imprisoned in Germany.