By Samantha Flom
Bank records and other documents suggest that a $40,000 payment President Joe Biden received from his brother in 2017 may have originated from a Chinese firm and moved through a series of Biden-family entities, according to a memo compiled by the Republican-led House Oversight Committee.
The evidence in the memo does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the money from the Chinese firm was meant for President Biden, who at the time was a private citizen and a former vice president. But several layers of circumstantial evidence, including a text message from Hunter Biden to his Chinese associates in which he invoked his father’s name days before the money was wired to a Hunter Biden account, has led the Republican chair of the Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), to accuse President Biden of receiving the foreign funds.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. President Biden has vehemently denied that he benefited from his family’s business ventures.
Mr. Comer, who accused the president of receiving “laundered China money” qualified the allegation by noting that it is plausible that the $40,000 from James Biden was indeed a loan repayment, as noted in the memo section of the personal check.
“But even if this $40,000 check was a loan repayment from James Biden, it still shows how Joe benefited from his family cashing in on his name—with money from China no less,” Mr. Comer said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member on the Oversight Committee, said in a statement that the Republicans “have uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden.”
“Committee Republicans’ most recent subpoenas are comically abusive in their breadth and scope, blindly seeking a decade’s worth of private citizens’ financial records,” Mr. Raskin said.
In addition to the text message from Hunter Biden, the committee obtained copies of FBI interview summaries with Hunter Biden’s associates, which detail how the president’s son formed a joint entity with Gongwen Dong, a CEFC associate, with the alleged purpose of receiving money in exchange for the influence which comes with the Biden family name.
Following the Money
Lending credence to the claim that the $40,000 consisted of money from the Chinese firm, the Biden family accounts through which the money moved were all near-empty or funded with other deposits from Chinese entities, the bank records show, according to the memo. The funds were then moved along the transaction chain before they were commingled with other deposits. The initial wire of $5 million from Northern International Capital, a firm affiliated with CEFC China Energy, was deposited in Hunter Biden’s joint venture account which was empty on the date of the wire on Nov. 8, 2017.
On the same day, Hunter Biden moved $400,000 to his professional corporation Owasco, P.C. Prior to the receipt of that transfer, the Owasco, P.C. account held just over $100,832, of which $100,000 came from CEFC Infrastructure Investment four days earlier. The committee had previously used bank records to trace the $100,000 payment to Shanghai Huaxin Group in China.
Six days later, Hunter Biden wired $150,000 to Lion Hall Group, an account belonging to Joe Biden’s brother, James Biden. Prior to the deposit, the account held only $1,964 in other funds. Two weeks later, after James and Sara Biden made various purchases reducing the balance to $115,822, Sara Biden withdrew $50,000 and deposited the money into their personal account.
Prior to the deposit, the James and Sara Biden personal account held $46. After the deposit and before Sara Biden wrote the $40,000 check to Joe Biden, no other deposits were made.
The transaction detailed by the committee is connected to the failed venture between Mr. Hunter Biden, Mr. Bobulinski, and other associates which was at one point modified to include a 10 percent stake for Hunter Biden meant for “the big guy.” Mr. Hunter Biden eventually abandoned that venture and formed his own entity to receive the wire from the CEFC-connected firm.
The new disclosure follows the Oversight Committee’s Oct. 20 announcement that it found evidence of a direct $200,000 payment to President Biden from his brother, James Biden, following a review of subpoenaed bank records.
The president has said that the payment—made the same day his brother received $200,000 from failing hospital operator Americore—was a loan repayment.
In every instance along the chain, the transferred funds made up all or nearly all of the funds in each account, suggesting that the $40,000 check was sourced from the initial $5 million payment.
Mr. Comer said that it was “plausible” that the money was in fact a loan repayment. The congressman noted that the president’s brother and sister-in-law would not have had the money to write the check if not for the initial wire from Northern International Capital.
In an interview with the FBI (pdf), former Biden family business associate Tony Bobulinski said that Mr. Hunter Biden and his uncle performed work on behalf of CEFC while President Biden was still vice president.
On May 2, 2017, Tony Bobulinski, a Hunter Biden business associate, met with Mrs. Joe, James, and Hunter Biden, according to an FBI summary of an interview of Mr. Bobulinski. After the meeting, Mr. Bobulinski brought up his concerns about Mr. Joe Biden’s involvement to Mr. James Biden, who responded with “plausible deniability.”
The president, currently facing an impeachment inquiry, has maintained that he had no knowledge of or involvement in his family members’ business affairs.
“In taking funds sourced to a CCP-linked company that wanted to advance China’s interests, Joe Biden exposed himself to future blackmail and put America’s interests behind his own desire for money,” Mr. Comer said.
After the committee revealed its findings surrounding the $200,000 payment last week, Ian Sams, White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, called the announcement a “distraction” from House Republicans’ difficulties electing a speaker.
“After rummaging through thousands of pages of a private citizen’s bank records, they have again turned up zero evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden—and that’s because there is none,” Mr. Sams added in an interview with CBS News.
Recent polling indicates that a majority (68 percent) of Americans believe President Biden has acted either illegally or unethically in relation to his family member’s foreign business affairs, though most Democrats (58 percent) believe he has done nothing wrong.
Joseph Lord, Tom Ozimek, and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.