And then he told a story. Recounting a trip to Kyiv in late 2015, Biden described telling the then-president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, that he had to fire the prosecutor general or the US would not release $1 billion in loan guarantees. “I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours,’” Biden told the crowd, taking a long look at his watch for effect. “‘If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch.” Here the audience laughed. “He got fired.”…

Three former officials who worked closely with Biden on Ukraine said they knew as soon as they watched the appearance that Biden had not spoken well. “It was classic Joe Biden,” said one former official…

“I think it’s quite possible that he got it over the finish line,” the former official said of Biden. “Everything that a president or vice president does, almost everything has been worked on for months or weeks by dozens if not hundreds of people.”

And finally, there was the concern that Biden’s remarks would embarrass the Ukrainian leadership. Poroshenko had a contentious relationship with Biden while the two were in office, the Ukrainian leader finding him too pushy. After Biden’s statements at the Council on Foreign Relations, Poroshenko, still president, was furious, and made calls to former officials to register his displeasure.