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Ask PolitiFact: Does a video show Joe Biden confessing to bribery? No

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg December 9, 2019

A reader asked, "How come Joe Biden is on film bragging about getting the Prosecutor investigating Burisma fired and fact check says there is no proof of that? Look at the film."

House Republicans have also focused on a video of then-vice president Joe Biden threatening to withhold a $1 billion financial aid package if Ukraine’s president didn’t fire his prosecutor general. 

In their view, it is no different than President Donald Trump holding up military aid to Ukraine. "You can whitewash it all you want," ranking Republican Doug Collins, R-Ga., said on the second day of House Judiciary hearings. "(Biden) said, ‘I'm not going to give you the billion dollars.’"

Context here is critical. Biden’s actions were very different from President Donald Trump’s delay of aid to Ukraine.

Most importantly, Biden was pushing for action that overall U.S. foreign policy supported, as well as the international community.

When Biden had his now-famous showdown with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko in 2015, he was delivering a message not only from the United States, but from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. All three entities were focused on curtailing corruption in Ukraine, and all three were deeply suspicious that Poroshenko’s prosecutor was playing a familiar game of tamping down investigations as a form of political favoritism.

By all credible accounts, the prosecutor had slow-walked the investigation of the energy company that hired Biden’s son; so, if anything, the prosecutor was doing the Bidens a favor. Getting rid of him would do the opposite.

By contrast, Trump sought a public announcement from Ukraine that it was investigating the Bidens. Trump was pressing for something that fell outside the recommendations of federal agencies. 

The U.S. Treasury, State and Defense departments, along with the National Security Council, supported the delivery of aid, according to testimony from witnesses Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman of the White House National Security Council.  The agencies were not part of the decision to delay it.

It’s not accurate to say that Trump and Biden were doing the same thing. When we’ve fact-checked that claim, we’ve rated it False

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Ask PolitiFact: Does a video show Joe Biden confessing to bribery? No