A longtime Democratic political operative with a controversial past confirmed to NBC News Sunday that he was the force behind a political robocall featuring the AI-generated voice of President Joe Biden. And the performance artist who created the fake Biden audio, a New Orleans street musician, said he “was under the impression that (Steve) Kramer was working for the Biden campaign,” NBC News reported.

The robocalls were made to New Hampshire Democrats on the eve of the First in the Nation presidential primary and sparked investigations at the state and federal levels. But the big question remains: What was the motive behind them?

 NBC News first reported Friday that the real voice behind the AI audio was magician Paul Carpenter. He said he was hired in January by Steve Kramer to use AI software to make the imitation of Biden’s voice urging New Hampshire Democrats not to vote in the state’s presidential primary.

Kramer was working for longshot Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips at the time. In his Sunday statement, Kramer declined to say what campaign or donor — if any — hired him to target 5,000 likely Democratic voters with this fake message.

“Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again. Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” the AI-Biden told voters. Carpenter told NBC News it took him less than 20 minutes to create the audio message and cost him just one dollar. He charged Kramer $150.

“I created the audio used in the robocall. I did not distribute it,” Carpenter said in an interview in New Orleans, where he is currently residing. “I was in a situation where someone offered me some money to do something, and I did it. There was no malicious intent. I didn’t know how it was going to be distributed.”

Kramer, on the other hand, has a reputation for using robocalls with malicious intent. He has been responsible for several controversial political robocalls, including one targeting a Hispanic state senator in New York, calling him “that crook.”

Kramer also launched a 2011 robocall attack against a New York congressional candidate, targeting the campaign’s strategist. Kramer said he was responsible for the calls, not any candidate or campaign, and bragged afterward that he sent the calls into the strategist’s home neighborhood in Boston, hundreds of miles from the district.

“I want to hurt his business,” Kramer said.

And what was Kramer’s motive for the robocalls in New Hampshire?

The Phillips campaign insists it had no knowledge or involvement in the calls.

“Steve Kramer was hired as a consultant to collect signatures to get Dean Phillips on the ballot in the states of New York and Pennsylvania — a choice we made reluctantly to overcome the absurd and artificial barriers to entry put in place to get on ballots in those states,” the Phillips campaign said in a statement to NHJournal.

“If it is true that Mr. Kramer had any involvement in the creation of deepfake robocalls, he did so of his own volition, which had nothing to do with our campaign. The fundamental notion of our campaign is the importance of competition, choice, and democracy.

“We are disgusted to learn that Mr. Kramer is allegedly behind this call, and if the allegations are true, we absolutely denounce his actions.”

According to NBC News, Kramer expressed no remorse for creating or distributing the bogus call on the eve of the First in the Nation primary. Instead, he appeared to be spinning the story to make himself appear as a whistleblower on the dangers of AI.

“With a mere $500 investment, anyone could replicate my intentional call,” Kramer said. “Immediate action is needed across all regulatory bodies and platforms.”

However, Kramer did not reveal his role in the call — which is the target of federal and state investigations that could result in felony charges — until Carpenter went public.

Among Granite State politicos, the assumption is that the calls’ goal was to discourage turnout in the primary to help Biden, who refused to allow his name on the ballot. Biden supporters mounted a write-in campaign, and fewer traditional voters would make his organized write-in votes a larger percentage of a smaller pie.

In the end, Biden received just under 64 percent of the vote, a poor showing for an incumbent president in his own party’s primary. By comparison, President Donald Trump received 86 percent of the vote in the 2020 GOP primary, a race that also included former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

The last incumbent president to receive less than 70 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary was George H. W. Bush, who garnered just 53 percent against pundit Pat Buchanan. Bush went on to lose reelection to then-Gov. Bill Clinton (D-Ark.)

Earlier this month, Formella announced the names of the telecom companies that made the actual automated calls, Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom, both of Texas.

Asked about the NBC News report, Formella spokesman Michael Garrity told NHJournal, “We have no comment/new public updates to provide at this time. Our investigation remains active and ongoing.”