The 2020 election is six months away, and foreign interference in it has begun.
The same people who brought you the conspiracy theories for which President Trump sought to extort Ukraine last year — leading to his impeachment — are now peddling something new.
It’s audio clips of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry speaking to Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko throughout 2016.
The tapes — some of which come with bizarre gaps, suggesting that they’ve been edited — appear to be aimed at denizens of right-wing fever swamps, launched with the intention of manufacturing false narratives about Biden.
The release comes after President Trump was impeached last year for pressuring Ukraine into inventing dirt about Biden. Trump dispatched his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to try to gin up negative information about Biden while withholding military aid from the former Soviet Republic, sparking the third impeachment trial in U.S. history.
As if on cue, the tapes have already begun to seep into the right-wing ether. Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft issued a breathless tweet about the release, describing in large caps what was widely understood to be U.S. policy at the time.
BREAKING UPDATE–> "QUID PRO JOE' — AUDIO Released of JOE BIDEN and Ukrainian President Poroshenko Discussing FIRING VIKTOR SHOKIN Who Was Investigating His Son — FOR IMF LOAN!! https://t.co/tDMpmBwj1W via @gatewaypundit @RealDonaldTrump @Parscale
— Jim Hoft (@gatewaypundit) May 19, 2020
Posted on YouTube on Tuesday, the tapes themselves are of dubious provenance.
Andrii Derkach, a member of Ukrainian parliament who met with Giuliani in Kyiv in December 2019, announced the tapes’ release in a press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday, all but broadcasting his intention to take down Biden.
“We are publishing recordings of telephone calls with voices similar to those of Petro Poroshenko and Joseph Biden, which bear witness to facts of international corruption and treason at the highest levels of government,” Derkach said.
“These conversations clearly show that Biden was governing Ukraine,” Derkach said, adding that he had given them to Ukrainian law enforcement.
A graduate of the KGB-operated Felix Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the Ministry of Security, Derkach wrote his PhD dissertation on “organizing and conducting meetings with secret agents.” After his December 2019 meeting, Derkach said he hoped that Giuliani could help expose “facts of the ineffective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars by representatives of Ukraine government agencies.”
The release of the tapes appears to be in the interest of multiple players.
Trump and Giuliani sought throughout much of 2019 to manufacture a scandal over Biden’s implementation of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine. Giuliani has persevered in the task of smearing Biden despite overwhelming resistance from reality, seeking to fabricate a scandal while relying on a bizarre cast of Ukrainian opportunists to do so.
Trump and Giuliani have yet to find a way to make that link, in spite of the President’s decision last year to withhold military aid until Ukraine announced investigations into Biden.
In the Ukrainian context, the recordings are also positioned as an attack against the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, a dedicated prosecutorial body set up with help from the Obama administration after the country’s 2014 revolution. The agency was intended to be an independent governmental entity that could purge the country of endemic graft.
Derkach has argued that the anti-corruption body was a tool of the Obama administration, and asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), OMB director Mick Mulvaney, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to investigate it last year.
The leaks could also be beneficial to a Ukrainian oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky, who reportedly faces a grand jury investigation in the Northern District of Ohio into allegations that he laundered millions of dollars through U.S. real estate.
During the impeachment saga, associates of Kolomoisky’s — including Derkach — helped provide Giuliani with negative information about the Bidens — none of which corresponds to reality.