Fake News: Joe Biden Does NOT Confess to Bribery

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: Joe Biden Does NOT Confess to Bribery

Did Joe Biden confess to bribery when he told how he warned Ukraine's leader the United States would withhold a $1 billion loan unless a prosecutor was replaced? No, that's not true: A video posted with the "bribery" claim is from the former vice president's appearance at a Council on Foreign Relations event on January 23, 2018, in which Biden was asked if he thought there was a chance of a resolution to the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine. Biden then related how he used the threat of withholding a loan in order to convince the leader of Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was not aggressively investigating corruption. Biden was not confessing to bribery.

The claim was made in a post published on September 25, 2019 titled "Joe Biden Confesses to Bribery" (archived here). It featured a user-generated C-Span video clip of the CFR event. It opened:

Former Vice President Joe Biden confesses to being in charge of Ukraine for the Obama Administration, and withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees from the USA to force Ukraine to fire prosecutor who was looking into the company that Hunter Biden was receiving $83,000+ PER MONTH from,,,

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Joe Biden Confesses to Bribery

Former Vice President Joe Biden confesses to being in charge of Ukraine for the Obama Administration, and withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees from the USA to force Ukraine to fire prosecutor...

The video clip includes this from Biden:

I'm desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. They made, I mean, I'll give you one concrete example. I was, not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders, convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn't.

So they said they had, they were walking out to a press conference. I said, no, I'm not going to, we're not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You're not the president. The president said, I said, call him.

I said, I'm telling you, you're not getting the billion dollars. I said, you're not getting the billion. I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Well, there's still, so they made some genuine substantial changes institutionally and with people. But one of the three institutions, there's now some backsliding.

The claim suggested that Biden wanted the prosecutor fired to prevent an investigation of Burisma, the gas company for which Biden's son Hunter served as a board member. As Biden said, he was "assigned" Ukraine by President Obama, who wanted Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin replaced. It was a goal supported by the European Union and the EU celebrated when it happened, according to an Irish Times article titled "EU hails sacking of Ukraine's prosecutor Viktor Shokin":

The European Union has welcomed the dismissal of Ukraine's scandal-ridden prosecutor general and called for a crackdown on corruption, even as the country's political crisis deepened over efforts to form a new ruling coalition and appoint a new prime minister.

Ukraine's parliament voted overwhelmingly to fire Viktor Shokin, ridding the beleaguered prosecutor's office of a figure who is accused of blocking major cases against allies and influential figures and stymying moves to root out graft.

"This decision creates an opportunity to make a fresh start in the prosecutor general's office. I hope that the new prosecutor general will ensure that [his] office . . . becomes independent from political influence and pressure and enjoys public trust," said Jan Tombinski, the EU's envoy to Ukraine.

"There is still a lack of tangible results of investigations into serious cases . . . as well as investigations of high-level officials within the prosecutor general's office," he added.

The public explanation by Biden of what happened to gain Shokin's removal was not a confession of bribery.

Other examples of user-generated C-Span videos being misused to support false claims include:

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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