By Robert Romano
“Biden was not then President, had no power to declassify, & came under the very tough Federal Records Act. I come under the much more generous Presidential Records Act, was having productive discussions with Radical Left NARA [National Archives and Records Administration], & did everything right. A giant Scam…”
That was former President Donald Trump on Truth Social on Jan. 11, outlining the differences between his removal of materials he says he declassified before he left office in Jan. 2021, and those found at a think tank then former Vice President Joe Biden used for office space from 2017 to 2019, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
The documents date from Biden’s time as Vice President, with some of them related to Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Iran, according to sources quoted by CNN and other news outlets. U.S. attorneys are investigating.
Trump blasted Biden in a separate truth on Truth Social: “Biden’s documents are HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL, many pertain to UKRAINE, where Hunter was ‘raking in the dough,’ and FUNDED BY CHINA, which gave $55 Million to Biden, through Penn, and probably had easy access.”
During the Obama administration, Biden was the White House’ “czar” for Ukraine policy. In fact, the civil war in Ukraine that began in 2014 actually started out as a policy disagreement over a pair of competing trade agreements with the European Union and Russia, according to Biden himself in his book, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” published in 2017.
“A popular demonstration,” Biden wrote, “which started at a square in Kyiv in late 2013, when President Viktor Yanukovych reneged on his promise to take the country into the European Union, had grown from a spontaneous eruption to a real political movement — one President Yanukovych mishandled badly.”
Here, Biden is referring to the pro-Europe, anti-Russia trade agreement, the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. It was a trade deal Yanukovych’s then-adviser Paul Manafort had advised him to adopt, but in 2013, he rejected Manafort’s advice, pulling out of the deal. What followed was a revolution in Ukraine that ultimately ousted Yanukovych from power in 2014, embroiling Ukraine in civil war that led directly to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and several separatist uprisings in eastern Ukraine. Yanukovych then fled to Russia on Feb. 22, 2014, and the trade deal was signed in March 2014 by interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
By Biden’s account, it was his pressure that prompted Yanukovych to flee: “I made the last of many urgent calls to Yanukovych in late February of 2014, when his snipers were assassinating Ukrainian citizens by the dozens and we had credible reports that he was contemplating an even more vicious crackdown. I had been warning him for months to exercise restraint in dealing with his citizens, but on this night, three months into the demonstrations, I was telling him it was over; time for him to call off his gunmen and walk away. His only real supporters were his political patrons and his operators in the Kremlin, I reminded him, and he shouldn’t expect his Russian friends to rescue him from this disaster. Yanukovych had lost the confidence of the Ukrainian people, I said, and he was going to be judged harshly by history if he kept killing them. The disgraced president fled Ukraine the next day…”
In his book, Biden is referring to the infamous Maidan Massacre that took place on Feb. 20, 2014, the flashpoint of the civil war in Ukraine. What began as peaceful protests in favor of the trade deal turned bloody when snipers began firing and killing dozens of protesters and police officers. At the time, per Biden’s account, within hours of the shootings the U.S. was blaming Yanukovych and his police forces, who was impeached within two days and then promptly fled the country to Russia.
Within days of the shootings Yanukovych was gone and within a month the trade deal was signed by the U.S.-backed interim government that the State Department had helped to install, documented by the BBC with a phone call by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that was apparently intercepted outlining U.S. efforts to put in place a new government in early 2014. Nuland stated a preference for Arseniy Yatseniuk to be in the new government, and was ultimately made Prime Minister and signed the trade deal in March 2014: “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.”
Biden wrote in favor of the armed overthrow of the government in his book: “The protesters in the Maidan found themselves in a war zone, enduring a brutal three-month siege in the dead of winter. They refused to back down, even in the face of death, and transformed the square where the protest began into an armed camp. Demonstrators seized government administration buildings and erected barricades so they could set up command centers, mess halls, and aid stations for people beaten and bloodied by Yanukovych’s uniformed police and his secret plainclothes thugs. The crowds of protesters grew to more than fifty thousand and just kept growing. By the middle of February 2014, they were inching toward the Parliament building.” Then, the shootings happened, Yanukovych was removed and the new U.S.-backed government was installed.
Biden’s description of the removal of Yanukovych also appears to match his removal Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, fired in 2016, when he threatened then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with $1.2 billion of loan guarantees if the firing was not completed, with Biden bragging to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018 that Shokin was fired the same day. Shokin says he was investigating a natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, who Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board of directors of and that that’s why he was fired.
Biden appears proud of his role in deposing both the prosecutor general in 2016 and the President of Ukraine following the bloodbath in the streets of Kiev in 2014. It is unclear what time period the Biden documents at the Penn center covers. Maybe all of it. A very good question is whether former President Barack Obama ever declassified them, as Trump has attested for his own documents case.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
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