Hunt for Biden tapes in Ukraine by Trump allies revives prospect of foreign interference

President Trump’s allies were in pursuit of a tantalizing prospect last year: tape recordings of Joe Biden speaking to Ukrainian officials while he was vice president, conversations they believed could help them damage Biden’s current bid for the White House.

The previously undisclosed hunt for tapes of Biden and other recordings in Ukraine, described by several people who were involved, came as the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was casting a wide net for material to undermine Trump’s political rival — a scheme that ultimately helped set in motion the president’s impeachment.

“We would have loved to get the recordings, but we never did,” Giuliani said in a recent interview.

Now, with just five months to go before Election Day, that material is surfacing in Ukraine and being touted by some of the president’s backers in the United States, including his eldest son last month.

Last week, a Ukrainian lawmaker who was once affiliated with a pro-Russian political party and has met with Giuliani released 10 edited snippets of what appeared to be Biden’s official vice presidential phone calls with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2016. It was the second cache of recordings the lawmaker, who studied under the KGB in Moscow in the early 1990s, has released since May.

The recordings show that Biden, as he has previously said publicly, linked loan guarantees for Ukraine to the ouster of the country’s prosecutor general. The tapes do not provide evidence to back Giuliani’s long-standing accusation that Biden sought to have him fired to block an investigation of a gas company that had hired his son Hunter.

The authenticity of the audio files, which appear heavily edited, could not be verified. The Ukrainian government is investigating how they were obtained. Biden’s campaign has said they are part of an effort to concoct conspiracy theories to smear him. Poroshenko has gone further and called them fake.

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