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Monday, Mar 20, 2023

Investigating Hunter Biden

Investigating Hunter Biden

This is a textbook case for a special counsel.
Sometimes breaking news has a long lag time, apparently. A year and a half after Hunter Biden’s laptop emerged, the mainstream press has begun to report on its contents. That should have been the story all along.

The new interest in the story brings home, once again, that President Biden owes the American people a full accounting of his knowledge of, and participation in, his family members’ embarrassingly blatant and lucrative practice of monetizing his political influence. This is especially true with respect to Hunter, who has acknowledged that he is the subject of a criminal investigation. The president’s Justice Department is investigating the president’s son over money generated by his proximity to government power that his father has wielded, under circumstances where his father himself has been credibly implicated.

This is not merely a case in which the Biden family was enriched or propped up by Biden’s domestic political allies or donors. Hunter and other members of the Biden family have been profiting from foreign business interests that have often been closely intertwined with foreign governments — notably including China and Ukraine, two of the most strategically important areas in American foreign policy. This dates back at least to when Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point man for dealing with, coincidentally enough, China and Ukraine.

In general, we are not fans of special counsels, which tend to spin out of control and be used as partisan weapons by both sides. There is no getting around the fact, though, that this is a textbook case. By federal regulation, the Justice Department is supposed to appoint an outside prosecutor — one who, though given more independence than ordinary Justice Department lawyers, remains subordinate and accountable to the attorney general and the president — whenever an investigation “would present a conflict of interest for the Department” and such an appointment would be “in the public interest.” Democrats demanded a special-counsel investigation of President Trump even though there was no evidence to support a criminal investigation. Here, Hunter Biden is under an active, well-founded criminal investigation in which charges appear likely.

The Biden Justice Department inevitably has a conflict of interest investigating the president’s son, particularly when President Biden is not only entangled at some level in the unsavory business dealings at issue but continues to claim he has no connection to them. That claim has long been untenable but now insults our intelligence.

This week, it emerged that in 2017, when he had just completed his eight-year stint as vice president and was obviously planning his 2020 run for the presidency, Biden wrote a letter of recommendation for the son of Jonathan Li. Not just any one of Hunter’s business partners, Li ran Bohai Industrial Investment Fund, an equity firm connected to the Chinese regime of President Xi Jinping. In 2013, Hunter was permitted to hitch a ride to Beijing on Air Force Two, where his father was to represent President Obama for meetings with Xi and his underlings. Hunter used the occasion to introduce the then–vice president to Li. Shortly after the Bidens returned home, Xi’s government licensed Bohai Harvest RST — a business partnership between the regime-tied equity fund and Hunter’s Rosemont Seneca investment firm (along with the Thornton Group, run by James Bulger, son of a powerful Boston Democrat and nephew of an infamous Boston mobster).

Hunter’s notorious drug addiction and unstable personal life notwithstanding, the venture was backed by billions in funding from the Bank of China and other regime-tied financial institutions. It engaged in investments that appear to have cut against American interests, for example, helping Chinese firms acquire dual-use technology with military applications and, for a staggering $3.8 billion, a large Congolese cobalt mine (cobalt is essential to extending the life of electric-car batteries). And though Biden vowed that, if Americans elected him president, none of his family members would retain potentially compromising foreign business ties, Hunter maintained a 10 percent stake in the Bohai venture until late 2021.

It’s inconceivable that Hunter never discussed this Chinese enterprise with his father. Meanwhile, there’s overwhelming evidence of Joe Biden’s involvement in other Hunter ventures with shady foreign businesses.

Most obviously, there is Hunter’s other China investment foray, a partnership with Xi protégé Ye Jianming of the now-defunct CEFC. Hunter was enticed into this deal when Ye presented him with a roughly 3-carat diamond, after which they concocted various schemes in which CEFC would get access to the Bidens and their American influence while the Bidens would get millions of dollars.

Tony Bobulinski, a former naval officer and successful investor, was retained to build a business structure for the partnership. In addition to several meetings with Hunter and with Joe’s brother, Jim Biden (who also has a history of cashing in on his brother’s influence), Bobulinski says he had two face-to-face meetings with Joe Biden in 2017. Biden, he reports, was deeply involved in the venture and was supposed to get a 10 percent cut from the Biden family’s take — a claim that appears to be corroborated by documents from Hunter’s laptop computer, one of which indicates that “H” (Hunter) was to hold a 10 percent stake “for the big guy.” Bobulinski says he was admonished not to mention Joe’s name except when meeting with him personally, and that Hunter told him CEFC was pushing the deal because it wanted a relationship with the Bidens.

An especially intriguing aspect of the CEFC dealings is that Ye retained Hunter as a lawyer, for a million dollars, to try to find out why CEFC executive Patrick Ho was under investigation by the federal government. Ho, to whom Hunter referred in one laptop recording as the “f***ing spy chief of China,” appears to have been under foreign-intelligence surveillance and was eventually convicted by the Justice Department on foreign-corruption charges. After revelations about the American investigation became public, Ye was summoned back to China in 2018. He hasn’t been seen since. Once a sprawling conglomerate, CEFC was allowed to go bankrupt, but not before Hunter and Jim Biden were paid about $5 million, according to a report compiled by Senators Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R., Wis.).

There is much more, which is clearly why Hunter Biden has reportedly been under investigation since 2018, for what he modestly calls “my tax affairs.” A great deal of evidence seems to have come from the laptop he abandoned at a Delaware repair shop, which Democrats and their allies in the media and big tech desperately tried to slough off as “Russian disinformation” in the weeks before the 2020 election. In various emails and files, Hunter brags of connecting his Ukrainian, Mexican, and Kazakh business associates with then–vice president Biden and other Obama administration officials. In fact, a top Democratic consulting firm is reportedly under the investigative microscope. Prosecutors are said to be determining whether Hunter and the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to register with the government, and possibly money-laundering laws. Many of these are the very same laws that were used to prosecute close associates of then-president Trump.

It may well be that Joe Biden did nothing illegal. Obviously, not everything that is sleazy violates the law. But there is a serious criminal investigation under way in circumstances where Justice Department regulations call for a special counsel. What’s more, the regulations call for the special counsel to file a report even if no charges are filed.

Americans can be forgiven for wondering why, when President Obama made his vice president the point man on administration policy in countries like China, Ukraine, and Russia, people and entities tied to those corrupt regimes saw the wisdom in lining the pockets of his inexperienced and troubled son.

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