According to the Associated Press, President Trump “has retweeted an audio recording that U.S. intelligence officials have described as being part of a Russian campaign to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.”
- “The leaked conversation, purportedly between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, dates from Feb. 18, 2016,” AP News reported. “The excerpt of it retweeted by Trump centers on the ouster of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor, who had previously investigated the owner of a Ukraine energy company where Biden’s son, Hunter, once held a board seat.”
“By amplifying the recording to his more than 85 million Twitter followers, Trump underscored the ease with which pro-Russian narratives can seep into American public discourse ahead of the 2020 election even after being flagged by intelligence officials as the product of a concerted Russian effort,” the report said.
- U.S. officials say that “Russia has also published disinformation under the guise of legitimate news stories...reflecting something of a shift in tactics from 2016, when Russia relied on a social media campaign to sow discord and orchestrated the release of stolen Democratic emails to boost Trump’s candidacy,” the report continued.
- The Biden campaign “accused Trump of having ‘habitually attacked the sovereignty of American elections,’ including by ‘attempting to coerce his Ukrainian counterpart into spreading conclusively-disproved lies.’”
- This was “a reference to a July 2019 phone call in which Trump encouraged his Ukraine counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Biden and his son. The call was at the center of the impeachment case against Trump that ended with his acquittal by the Senate in February,” AP News wrote.
“Donald Trump is the most hostile president to American democracy in our history,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in the statement.
- Andrii Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament and a 1993 graduate of a Russian spy academy “who long has aired corruption allegations against Biden and his son, released this year what he says are recordings of conversation between Poroshenko and Biden when Biden was vice president,” AP News continued. “That effort was flagged in a U.S. intelligence assessment earlier this month that warned of Russian interference in the upcoming election, and specifically efforts to denigrate Biden.”
“For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party,” said the statement from William Evanina, the U.S. government’s chief counterintelligence official.