The recordings came from Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker connected to the Russian intelligence services. Mr. Derkach said they show that Mr. Biden in 2015 pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to help Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, in return for U.S. aid. Mr. Biden’s son Hunter was on Burisma’s board.
In fact, nowhere in the highly edited audio files does Mr. Biden discuss Burisma or his son. Rather, they show that Mr. Biden linked U.S. loan guarantees to the firing of Ukraine’s corrupt prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, which was an avowed aim of U.S. and European foreign policy. Mr. Biden himself revealed in 2018 his role in Mr. Shokin’s ouster, which was a legitimate condition for U.S. aid. The audio reveals nothing new, and certainly nothing scandalous, about Mr. Biden. Such facts do not deter the president’s son.
For his part, Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said the conversations “might be perceived, qualified as high treason.” His ire was focused not on Mr. Biden but on Mr. Poroshenko, a political rival. Though he likely had domestic politics in mind, Mr. Zelensky should be wary of abetting a baseless partisan campaign against Mr. Biden, which would endanger long-term relations between Ukraine and the United States.
If they were capable of embarrassment or shame, Republican leaders, too, would be wary of further corroding the nation’s politics as they appear to amplify Russian disinformation and encourage unfounded Biden-Ukraine scandal-mongering. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, this week led his panel to authorize a subpoena of records related to Burisma and Hunter Biden, and he has said he wants to release a report on the matter before the election.
The subpoena target, a lobbying firm connected to Burisma, said no subpoena was necessary, as the company was willing to cooperate with Senate investigators. Whether or not that is true, a subpoena was unnecessary also because there is no inkling that the former vice president did anything wrong, as even some Trump administration officials have testified. In fact, the substantial record, including the new audio, shows he was helping to fight corruption in Ukraine.
It is perverse that Mr. Johnson and the Trump camp seek to warp that good turn into an election-year liability for Mr. Biden. Their apparent lack of concern about the prospect of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with malign foreign actors is even more disgraceful.