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- A phone call recording from 2016 between then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was leaked in 2020, but as it recirculates in 2022, it’s wrongly being used to claim Biden threatened to kill the former head of state.
Did President Joe Biden threaten to kill a Ukrainian head of state in 2016? Edited snippets from a 2016 phone call between Bidenand then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are being framed as if the then-U.S. vice president had murderous intent. He didn’t.
"BREAKING," a description of the Nov. 16, 2016, call says in a recent Facebook post. "Leaked audio from days after the 2016 election, before Trump’s inauguration — Biden calls Poroshenko, then head of state of Ukraine, and threatens him with assassination if he cooperates with the incoming Trump administration."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The Facebook post shows a clip of a One America News Network broadcast in 2020, when a Ukrainian lawmaker with links to Russian intelligence released edited fragments of private phone calls between Biden and Poroshenko. Although these phone call snippets are circulating on social media as if they were just leaked — they weren’t; they were leaked in 2020.
"This is getting very, very close to what I don’t want to happen," Biden can be heard saying on the One America News segment. "I don’t want Trump to get into a position where he thinks he’s about to buy on to a policy where the financial system is going to collapse and he’s going to be looked to pour more money into Ukraine. That’s how he’ll think about it before he gets sophisticated enough to know the detail."
The clip cuts to an One America News broadcaster and then back to Biden: "So, anything you can do to push PrivatBank to closure so that the IMF loan comes forward, I would respectfully suggest is critically important to your economic as well as physical security."
Ukraine nationalized PrivatBank, the country’s largest lender in Ukraine, a month after the call.
This recording, among other heavily edited fragments of phone calls between Biden and Poroshenko that were released in 2020, was widely covered by the media when it was leaked, and no credible sources then suggested that Biden had threatened to kill Ukraine’s president.
"Biden encouraged Poroshenko to take action on Ukraine’s undercapitalized PrivatBank to avoid trouble with the new U.S. president," the Kyiv Post reported.
Biden "told Poroshenko to set a date to take action on PrivatBank in order to receive a new tranche of aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He termed this a matter of ‘economic as well as physical security’ for Ukraine."
The White House released a summary of the call the same day it happened, saying that among other issues, the leaders "discussed Ukraine’s reform trajectory and emphasized the need for continued swift progress, including steps needed to secure Ukraine’s next tranche of IMF funding."
Biden, among other presidents, has used the term "physical security" regularly. In August, for example, Biden talked in a speech to the Democratic National Committee about the United States’ need to plan its direction wisely to ensure "economic, political and physical security." As in the leaked phone call, Biden, speaking June 30 at a press conference in Madrid after a NATO summit, tied funding from the U.S. to aid Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion to the country’s physical security.
"But for it to end, they have to be in a position where … the Ukrainians have all that they can reasonably expect, we can reasonably expect to get to them, in order to … provide for their physical security and their defenses," he said.
We rate claims Biden threatened to assassinate a former Ukrainian president Pants on Fire!
Facebook post, Aug. 29, 2022
The White House, Remarks by President Biden at a Reception for the Democratic National Committee, Aug. 26, 2022
Yahoo, New US aid package to Ukraine includes anti-aircraft and offensive weapons, July 1, 2022
Fox News, Sanctioned Ukrainian lawmaker leaks Biden call where VP knocked 'slow' Trump transition, Sept. 16, 2020
The White House, Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, Nov. 16, 2016
The Washington Post, Ukrainian lawmaker releases leaked phone calls of Biden and Poroshenko, May 19, 2020
The Associated Press, Biden audio first shared by ‘Russian agent’ thrives online, Sept. 11, 2020
Kyiv Post, Ukrainian MP releases Biden-Poroshenko call recordings, spouts absurd conspiracy theory, May 19, 2020
The White House, Remarks by President Biden in Press Conference in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2022
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