The Corner

Elections

What We Know About Hunter Biden’s Deal with a Chinese Energy Company

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden depart after a pre-inauguration church service in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2009. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Walk through what is known about Hunter Biden and his business partners, and what is not speculation…

In the July 2019 New Yorker profile of Hunter Biden, he talked about his business dealings with CEFC China Energy, including an extremely valuable diamond gift from the company’s chief.

When I asked him about it, he told me that he had been given the diamond by the Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming, who was trying to make connections in Washington among prominent Democrats and Republicans, and whom he had met in the middle of the divorce. Hunter told me that two associates accompanied him to his first meeting with Ye, in Miami, and that they surprised him by giving Ye a magnum of rare vintage Scotch worth thousands of dollars.

Hunter was on the board of the World Food Program USA, a nonprofit that generates support for the U.N. World Food Programme, and he had hoped that Ye would make a large aid donation. At dinner that night, they discussed the donation, and then the conversation turned to business opportunities. Hunter offered to use his contacts to help identify investment opportunities for Ye’s company, CEFC China Energy, in liquefied-natural-gas projects in the United States. After the dinner, Ye sent a 2.8-carat diamond to Hunter’s hotel room with a card thanking him for their meeting. “I was, like, Oh, my God,” Hunter said. (In Kathleen’s court motion, the diamond is estimated to be worth eighty thousand dollars. Hunter said he believes the value is closer to ten thousand.)

When I asked him if he thought the diamond was intended as a bribe, he said no: “What would they be bribing me for? My dad wasn’t in office.” Hunter said that he gave the diamond to his associates, and doesn’t know what they did with it. “I knew it wasn’t a good idea to take it. I just felt like it was weird,” he said.

Hunter’s “my dad wasn’t in office” excuse doesn’t carry much water. This was in May 2017; while Joe Biden was no longer vice president, there was widespread belief he would run for president and indeed that month, Biden formed a political action committee, which the New York Times called “the most concrete sign yet that he intends to remain active in the Democratic Party and is considering a presidential bid in 2020.”

The fact that Hunter Biden and his associates had a business deal with Ye Jianming is not in dispute. As The New Yorker reported, “Hunter began negotiating a deal for CEFC to invest forty million dollars in a liquefied-natural-gas project on Monkey Island, in Louisiana, which, he said, was projected to create thousands of jobs.”

Nor is there doubt that Ye Jianming’s company was closely tied to the Chinese government.  In December 2018, CNN wrote, “at its height, Ye’s company, CEFC China Energy, aligned itself so closely with the Chinese government that it was often hard to distinguish between the two.”

At some point, Ye Jianming must have seriously angered the highest levels of the Chinese government. According to the South China Morning News, a paper believed to have strong sources in the Chinese government, “Ye’s detention in China was ordered directly by the Chinese president Xi Jinping.” The Chinese government took Ye Jianming into custody, and he has not been seen since March 2018.

According to one of the emails described in the New York Post article, the equity of Hunter Biden’s deal with CEFC would be split six ways, including “10 held by H for the big guy” – appearing to mean 10 percent. Tony Bobulinski was one of the recipients of that email, and he told Fox News it is authentic.

“The reference to ‘the Big Guy’ in the much publicized May 13, 2017 email is in fact a reference to Joe Biden,” Bobulinski said in a statement to Fox News. Bobulinski said that Joe Biden’s insistence that he never talked business with his son is not true, and that Hunter “frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals.”

In a 60 Minutes interview in October 2019, Joe Biden insisted he never discussed Hunter’s business dealings with his son.

Norah O’Donnell: Hunter said the only thing you said to him was, quote, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Joe Biden: That’s exactly right. He’s a grown–

Norah O’Donnell: What do you–

Joe Biden: –man. What I meant by that is I hope you’ve thought this through. I hope you know exactly what you’re doin’ here.

Norah O’Donnell: Meaning what?

Joe Biden: That’s all I meant. Nothing more than that because I’ve never discussed my business or their business, my sons’ or daughter’s. And I’ve never discussed them because they know where I have to do my job and that’s it and they have to make their own judgments.

Bobulinski isn’t merely contending Joe Biden lied in that interview. He’s declaring that the email means that Hunter Biden intended to keep a 10 percent share in a joint investment with a company controlled by the Chinese government on behalf of his father. A shared investment with a Chinese company is not a crime, but attempting to hide it, or laundering the money to hide its origins, can be a crime.

Fox News obtained an FBI “receipt for property” from John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of “The Mac Shop” who reported the laptop’s contents to authorities. The top of the receipt for property, signed by FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson, includes a “Case ID” section, which is filled in with a hand-written number: 272D-BA-3065729.

According to multiple officials, and the FBI’s website, “272” is the bureau’s classification for money laundering, while “272D” refers to “Money Laundering, Unknown SUA [Specified Unlawful Activity]—White Collar Crime Program,” according to FBI documents. One government official described “272D” as “transnational or blanket.”

Throughout his long career, Joe Biden has always been relatively pro-China, or at least an advocate for closer economic ties with Beijing. In the early months of the presidential campaign, Biden dismissed the notion of China as an economic threat to the United States. First in May 1 remarks in Iowa:

China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east, I mean in the west. They can’t figure out how they are going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not competition for us.

And then again in New Hampshire, May 13, 2019: “What are we doing? We’re walking around with our heads down, ‘Woe is me.’ No other nation can catch us, including China. I got criticized for saying that. I’ve spent as much time with [Chinese President] Xi Jinping as any world leader has.”

Any aspect of this would make a good question for reporters in the coming days.

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