Hunter Biden's Dealings With CCP-Linked Chinese Firm Are Illegal Under Foreign Agents Registration Act: Rep. Johnson

Hunter Biden's Dealings With CCP-Linked Chinese Firm Are Illegal Under Foreign Agents Registration Act: Rep. Johnson
Hunter Biden walks to Marine One on the Ellipse outside the White House in Washington on May 22, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael Washburn

Hunter Biden’s dealings with Chinese energy firm CEFC are in violation of the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Rep. Mike Johnson said on April 5.

Johnson lamented at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that the FBI has shown markedly little interest in enforcing the act now that Democrats hold the White House, after having opened aggressive FARA investigations of people and organizations while President Donald Trump was in office.

The hearing, titled “Enhancing the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938,” explored ways to enforce the statute in a fair and consistent manner. Originally drafted with a view to countering the propaganda and seditious activities of pro-Nazis elements in the 1930s, the act today is ill-understood and spottily enforced at best, legislators have said.

From 1966 to 2017, Johnson noted, investigations under FARA led to only seven prosecutions. Then, with Trump in office, the FBI suddenly grew interested in using FARA prosecutions as a tool and selectively enforced the act in a biased manner with the aim of prosecuting people deemed to be in the Trump camp, such as former 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and former New York mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, according to Johnson.

Federal agents were quick to use a failure to register certain activities under FARA as a pretext for aggressive enforcement actions, Johnson said, and even raided Giuliani’s Madison Avenue apartment and Park Avenue office as part of an investigation of his dealings in Ukraine.

“Of course, now that President Trump has left office, the FBI again has little interest in enforcing FARA. If that’s not evidence of political bias in the depths of government, I don’t know what is,” he said.

In Johnson’s view, the political motivations of earlier FARA enforcement actions stand out all the more starkly in light of the feds’ current lack of interest in pursuing Hunter Biden in the face of “ample evidence” that the latter tried to advance the interests of foreign companies when his father, Joe Biden, was vice president during the Obama administration.

The CEFC Connection

The lawmaker expressed consternation that it's now known that the FBI has had Hunter Biden’s laptop in its possession since December 2019, and in nearly two and a half years since hasn't taken any public action concerning its contents, which are said to include details of business deals, pornographic images, and illicit data.
Johnson noted that his colleague, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), took the step of introducing a copy of the contents of the laptop's hard drive into the congressional record last week, adding that he hopes the staff of the majority Democratic Party doesn't delay the disclosing of the laptop’s contents to the public.

“Everybody has a right to know that the son of the vice president used his political influence to benefit, among many other companies, CEFC China Energy, a Chinese conglomerate whose chairman has links to the Chinese Communist Party,” Johnson said.

Johnson has no doubt that Hunter Biden knew that his dealings with CEFC violated the law, especially in light of a text message that Biden sent to his business associate Tony Bobulinski on May 1, 2017, stating, “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents.” In subsequent communications, Biden proposes that they form a shell corporation to conceal their role and permit CEFC to engage freely and without legal complications in dealings with the U.S. government.
Johnson alluded to public statements from Bobulinski acknowledging that then-Vice President Biden had discussed the CEFC dealings directly with the younger Biden.
Johnson cited an email found on Hunter Biden’s laptop dated May 13, 2017, that mentioned compensation packages, including substantial equity splits, for a deal with CEFC. The younger Biden mentions that there will be something in the deal for “the big guy,” a nickname that Bobulinski says Hunter used in reference to Joe Biden.

The laptop also contains evidence of potential FARA violations in the context of Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Johnson said. It also establishes that Hunter Biden set up meetings with other U.S. officials and engaged in further “representational activities” on behalf of his foreign counterparties, he added.

“Failing to register such behavior is clearly a violation of the law, but to date, zero charges have been filed and FARA has not been used as a pretext,” the lawmaker said, adding that the FBI’s seeming indifference to the violations of the son of a top Democratic Party figure isn't without consequences for the way that Americans perceive their elected officials and their institutions.

“Political bias is rearing its head. The double standard continues to erode faith in our public institutions.”

A Colleague Weighs In

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pointedly challenged the president’s recent denial of any wrongdoing on the part of his son.
“‘Nothing was unethical. My son has not made money from Chinese business interests.’ There are 4.8 million reasons why that statement is not accurate,” Jordan said, alluding to two recent stories that The Washington Post published on the matter.

The laptop story was first reported by the New York Post in late 2020 before Twitter, Facebook, and other social media companies moved to limit its reach. Twitter also locked the NY Post’s account for more than two weeks, claiming the outlet published “hacked material.” Last week, The Washington Post, which hired two security experts to authenticate the laptop, verified the authenticity of much of the laptop's content.

“They ran two eight-page stories, four minutes apart, when, for 18 months, they had said it’s Russian disinformation,” Jordan said.

The Washington Post reported that Hunter Biden had received large payouts from Chinese firms with links to the CCP, including $4.8 million from CEFC China Energy, the lawmaker noted.

“Should Hunter Biden have registered under [FARA]? Why didn’t he? Why is the Department of Justice being inconsistent, as it seems?” he asked.

Hunter Biden's lawyer, the Justice Department, and the FBI didn't respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Michael Washburn was a New York-based reporter who covered U.S. and China-related topics for The Epoch Times. He has a background in legal and financial journalism, and also writes about arts and culture. Additionally, he is the host of the weekly podcast Reading the Globe. His books include “The Uprooted and Other Stories,” “When We're Grownups,” and “Stranger, Stranger.”