Phone conversations between Joe Biden and former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko have been leaked in what some observers see as a political effort to help U.S. President Donald Trump’s bid for reelection.
Tapes of the phone conversations were made when Biden was vice president and have not been authenticated, Associated Press reported. They were released on Tuesday by Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who for years has made unsubstantiated accusations of corruption against Biden and his son, who once served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
The released recordings do not mention Hunter Biden or Burisma, according to the New York Post.
Edited recordings of the phone calls were played at a news conference Tuesday in Kiev by Derkach, who has claimed he has proof Burisma paid then-Vice President Joe Biden $900,000 in lobbying fees.
Details of the phone conversations have been reported before that took place between Biden and Poroshenko in 2015-2016 when both were still in office.
Derkach, a former member of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, met in Kiev in December.
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On the tape released by Derkach, Biden and Poroshenko discuss replacing Prosecutor General Victor Shokin as a condition for $1 billion in loan guarantees, but make no mention of Burisma, AP reported.
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Trump and others have alleged that Biden pushed for Shokin’s removal because Shokin was investigating Burisma, according to New York Post.
The Biden campaign responded to the leaked recording, claiming it was part of an ongoing effort by the Russians to hurt Biden.
“They heavily edited this, and it’s still a nothingburger that landed with a thud,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates told the Washington Post.
Poroshenko’s political party, European Solidarity, said the leaked recordings were part of a plan to drag Ukraine — a longtime U.S. ally — into the U.S. 2020 presidential election.