Former Hunter business partner: I've got the smoking guns, and I'm going to the FBI

Former Hunter business partner: I've got the smoking guns, and I'm going to the FBI

Last night’s debate stepped on this news late yesterday, but it’s still worth noting. Tony Bobulinski called a press conference in the evening to announce that he will take information to the FBI and to the Senate to corroborate reporting on Hunter Biden’s connections to China and one of its state-owned entities. Bobulinski contradicted Joe Biden’s many assertions that he had never been involved in his son’s businesses, and says that he can provide first-hand testimony that Joe was read into the business plan, “at least at a high level”:

Kim Strassel has a good rundown of the alleged Sinohawk/CEFC China Energy scheme at the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Bobulinski’s text messages show he was recruited for the project by James Gilliar, a Hunter associate. Mr. Gilliar explains in a December 2015 text that there will be a deal between the Chinese and “one of the most prominent families from the U.S.” A month later he introduces Rob Walker, also “a partner of Biden.” In March 2016, Mr. Gilliar tells Mr. Bobulinski the Chinese entity is CEFC, which is shaping up to be “the Goldmans of China.” Mr. Gilliar promises that same month to “develop” the terms of a deal “with hunter.” Note that in 2015-16, Joe Biden was still vice president.

As the deal takes shape in 2017, Mr. Bobulinski begins to question what Hunter will contribute besides his name, and worries that he was “kicked out of US Navy for cocaine use.” Mr. Gilliar acknowledges “skill sets [sic] missing” and observes that Hunter “has a few demons.” He explains that “in brand [Hunter is] imperative but right know [sic] he’s not essential for adding input.” Mr. Bobulinski writes that he appreciates “the name/leverage being used” but thinks the economic “upside” should go to the team doing the actual work. Mr. Gilliar reminds him that those on the Chinese side “are intelligence so they understand the value added.”

This dispute almost derails the deal. Hunter is hardly visible through most of the work, until final contract negotiations ramp up in mid-May. He brings in his uncle Jim Biden for a stake. (Mr. Gilliar in a text message soothes Mr. Bobulinski with a promise that Jim’s addition “strengthens our USP”—unique selling proposition—“to the Chinese as it looks like a truly family business.”) Hunter in texts and emails wants offices in three U.S. cities, “significant” travel budgets, a stipend for Jim Biden, a job for an assistant, and more-frequent distributions of any gains. As for annual pay, he explains in an email that he expects “a hell of a lot more than 850” thousand dollars a year (the amount Mr. Bobulinski, the CEO, is getting), since his ex-wife will take nearly all of it. …

CEFC was closely entwined with the Chinese government and military until it went bankrupt, following U.S. charges of money laundering. There is no question CEFC was buying Hunter for influence.

Joe Biden claims he has never discussed his son’s business. Yet a May 2017 “expectations” document shows Hunter receiving 20% of the equity in the venture and holding another 10% for “the big guy”—who Mr. Bobulinski attests is Joe Biden.

Note, however, that by May 2017 there wasn’t much influence left to buy. Biden had left office, and while it was expected that he might consider a presidential run, it wasn’t yet a certainty. Biden had zero influence in the executive branch at that point, although he still had some cachet as an eminence grise among Democrats, who … were also out of power in May 2017 in Congress. If what Bobulinski claims is true, Hunter’s alleged greediness may have stalled the deal until it no longer became valuable to the Chinese government organs that wanted to use it to pull strings in Washington.

Besides, in May 2017, Joe Biden could have entered the deal directly without any conflict of interest. If he was planning another run for the presidency, it would have been a political issue, but not a legal issue. Strassel wisely emphasizes the political problem at the end:

The former vice president is running on trust and good judgment. The Hunter tale is at best the story of a wayward son and indulgent father. At worst, it is an example of the entire Biden clan cashing in on its name with a U.S. rival. As Mr. Biden refuses to answer questions about this case, voters will have to make up their own minds. But given Hunter’s exploits in China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and elsewhere, much more is yet to come—in the next week and a half and potentially in a Biden presidency.

Indeed, if what Bobulinski claims can be independently verified and authenticated. We have a good idea that it can be by Joe Biden’s rebuttals on everything except authenticity, which even normally friendly media outlets have begun to notice. But it would not have been illegal to do business in this manner and then divest all interests in it once Joe began running for office again, as long as all other legal requirements in reporting and taxes were met.

Reportedly, the FBI has taken Bobulinski up on his offer to share what he has with investigators. Senator Ron Johnson has also expressed interest in the material as chair of the Homeland Security Committee. If there’s fire to this smoke, we should know at some point, and keep an open mind until then, and don’t jump to conclusions on facts not yet in evidence.

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