Fox News published a story today highlighting some text messages between Hunter Biden’s former business associates James Gilliar and Tony Bobulinski. The messages from 2017 involve a plan to set up a business deal with a Chinese energy company. The pair were eager to get Joe Biden involved but also warned about mentioning that he would be involved except in face to face communications.

In April Bobulinski asked Gilliar why Jim Biden was part of the discussion when they already had Hunter on board. “With H demons, could be good to have a back up, he strengthens our USP to Chinese as it looks like a truly family business, and I like the dude,” Gilliar explained. Fox News reports that “USP” could stand for “unique selling point” or possibly for “U.S. persons.” Whatever the case, the point is clearly that having two Bidens involved adds to the suggestion that the entire family is involved.

In early May, the same two were discussing a meeting with the chairman of the Chinese company and the need for an “A lister” to be at the meeting. Gilliar then texted Bobulinski with the hope that “Joe may come Sunday.” He added, “I’m hoping.” Bobulinski called that a “no brainer.” But Joe Biden apparently did not attend the meeting.

On May 11, Bobulinski texted Gilliar saying, “Man U are right let’s get the company set up, then tell H and family the high stakes and get Joe involved.”

There’s no clear indication from any of the texts presented in the Fox story that Joe Biden himself had agreed to anything in relation to this deal, but it seems clear the group is hoping to trade on his status and also hoping that they will be able to get him to participate in some way to make the deal happen.

Later in May, Gilliar texted Bobulinski a reminder: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u are face to face, I know u know that but they are paranoid.” The suggestion seems to be that anything that is recorded or written down (a phone message, text or email) could potentially create a problem. Bobulinski could only mention the involvement of Joe Biden “face to face.” And obviously, Gilliar was right about that as this Fox News story demonstrates. In fact, the bit about not mentioning Joe was reported back in October.

All of this seems to contradict what Gilliar told the Wall Street Journal in October.

“I am unaware of any involvement at any time of the former Vice President,” Gilliar told the Journal in October.

Gilliar did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the text messages appearing to reference Joe Biden.

Again, it may actually be true that Joe Biden was never really involved, but clearly it’s not for a lack of trying by Hunter Biden’s associates. They seem to have had a pretty clearly understanding that this deal was about trading on the Biden name.

Earlier this month, Hunter Biden announced that he’d learned he was under federal investigation. The exact nature of that investigation isn’t clear but may have something to do with business dealings with China. Today’s Fox News report has a tiny bit to add to that story:

A well-placed government source told Fox News that Hunter Biden has been a subject/target of the grand jury investigation. According to the source, a “target” means that there is a “high probability that person committed a crime,” while a “subject” is someone you “don’t know for sure” has committed a crime.

So was he initially a subject and now he’s a target? It’s not clear but it sounds like this has to do with Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) about foreign financial transactions. I guess we won’t know more unless the grand jury issues an indictment.