Investigators in Ukraine have officially launched a probe into former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, reports from Fox News and Washington Post confirm.
Biden is accused of pressuring Ukrainian officials to fire the country’s top prosecutor in 2016, according to the report.
In a video from 2018, Biden is heard in his own words bragging about using his influence to get the top prosecutor fired. The comments came during a discussion with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Biden explains that he threatened to call back a $1 billion loan from the U.S. government to Ukraine if the firing didn’t happen.
“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden says in the video.
Biden was referring to a conversation between himself and then-Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko.
“Well, son of a b—-, he got fired,” Biden explains. “And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
The ousted prosecutor was Viktor Shokin. Shokin’s attorney, Oleksandr Teleshetsky, told The Washington Post that the Ukrainian probe was launched in response to an appeal for action in the matter.
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Teleshetsky said, “They need to investigate this. They have no other alternative.”
“They are required to do this by the decision of the court. If they don’t, then they violate a whole string of procedural norms,” Teleshetsky concludes.
The Post reported that Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations confirmed a probe was underway,
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Shokin has long objected to his removal, claiming Biden – who’s now running for president — pushed for his firing because the prosecutor tried to investigate Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company where Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a highly paid board member, reportedly receiving $83,000 per month.
Both Bidens have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection with Ukraine. Hunter Biden pledged last year to avoid business deals with foreign entities if his father becomes president.
Shokin’s removal during the Obama era was done in coordination with the U.S. State Department, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the Post reported.
Last summer, President Trump asked Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to launch an investigation into the Bidens regarding their dealings in the country – a request that House Democrats said amounted to a “quid pro quo” arrangement, alleging that Trump had threatened to withhold U.S. aid if Ukraine did not comply with the president’s wishes.
The House Democrats’ allegations became the basis of their impeachment of Trump, on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in a party-line vote Dec. 18. But the Senate ultimately acquitted the president Feb. 5, again mostly along party lines.
Shokin mentioned Joe Biden by name while making his request for an investigation but case documents prepared by the State Bureau of Investigations refer only to an unnamed U.S. citizen, Teleshetsky told the Post.