Amid foreign agent drama, memo reveals $20M to Hunter and Biden family
By Philip Wegmann
Real Clear Wire
A proposed plea deal between Hunter Biden, son of President Biden, and the Justice Department stemming from two misdemeanor tax charges and a gun-related felony was paused in federal court over a simple question.
Did the agreement shield Biden from potential future prosecution, including illegal foreign lobbying? Defense counsel insisted that yes, the agreement did. The DOJ replied, no it did not. Absent a “meeting of the minds,” the court ruled, there could be no deal, sending both camps back to renegotiate.
During the exchange, the DOJ indirectly revealed that Hunter Biden may still be under investigation for a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. And now, two weeks later, according to banking documents released by the House Oversight Committee, it has been revealed that members of the Biden family and their business associates received over $20 million in payments from foreign sources.
“During Joe Biden’s vice presidency, Hunter Biden sold him as ‘the brand’ to reap millions from oligarchs in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. It appears no real services were provided other than access to the Biden network, including Joe Biden himself,” Oversight Chairman James Comer said in a statement.
A senior aide on the House Oversight committee told RealClearPolitics that Republicans believe the younger Biden was acting as a foreign agent, something conservatives have asserted since the 2020 presidential election campaign.
They now think they have evidence that proves it. According to the committee, bank records show money came from business associates in China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Romania, and Ukraine. Moreover, Hunter Biden attempted “to hide the sources and size of the payments.” The GOP memo details, among many other payments, how in 2014 a Kazakhstani oligarch with close ties to the prime minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov, wired $142,300 to a bank account controlled by Hunter Biden – a sum that was “the exact price of Biden’s sports car.”
“Joe Biden was ‘the Brand’ sold around the world to enrich the Biden family and he was used to ‘signal’ their access, influence, and power,” the memo states, before alleging that the Biden family served as “the vehicle to receive bribery payments.”
The Biden administration quickly dismissed the memo as a flop. Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House counsel, said in a statement that House Republicans "haven’t uncovered any proof of involvement or wrongdoing by President Biden” and were spreading “innuendo and lies as they pursue a baseless impeachment stunt to attack the president.”
Separate questions about potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act remain.
The 1938 law, known as FARA, requires individuals who lobby on behalf of foreign interests to register as foreign agents with the federal government. For decades, lobbyists often ignored the obscure statute without consequence. During the Trump administration, however, the DOJ began aggressively enforcing the statute.
Most notably, Paul Manafort, co-chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, pled guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for the government of Ukraine and Ukrainian political organizations. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Hunter Biden has never registered as a foreign agent, despite lucrative work done on behalf of foreign interests. His name does not appear in the public FARA database kept by the DOJ, and political opponents have sought to take him to court for allegedly skirting the law.
The America First Legal Foundation, an advocacy group led by longtime Trump confidant Stephen Miller, filed a federal lawsuit against the DOJ last month seeking to force the president’s son to register as a foreign agent.
“The defendants’ refusal to require Mr. Biden to register as a foreign agent denies America First Legal information which must be publicly disclosed pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and for which it has a statutory right,” the lawsuit says.
Claire Finkelstein, faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, told RCP that proving a FARA violation would require more information than what House Republicans provided Wednesday.
After reviewing the memo, Finkelstein concluded that “there's nothing in this report that indicates that Hunter Biden, or anyone else in Biden's family, by receiving these payments from foreign sources has also been violating the Foreign Agent Registration statute.”
But critics of the DOJ have long alleged unequal application of the law. “It’s a double standard, 100%,” former assistant FBI director Chris Swecker, who led public corruption cases out of Washington, previously told RealClearInvestigations. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board argued that “a bad law used against Trump associates now haunts President Biden’s son.”
Legal jeopardy casts a long shadow. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley called on the DOJ in 2020 to probe why Biden never registered as a foreign agent, despite his documented business dealings with a Chinese government-backed energy company called CEFC.
“Are there things here that set off alarm bells? Sure,” said an attorney with expertise in FARA issues who requested anonymity to comment before all the facts were known. “Especially that meal with the vice president,” the lawyer added, referring to a 2014 dinner at Café Milano in Washington, which the Comer memo cites and then-Vice President Biden attended with Hunter Biden’s foreign business partners.
The attorney asked, “What was that all about?”