On Monday, Iowa GOP senator Charles Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, fired off a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr in which he stated, “… the actions by Hunter Biden and James Biden on behalf of CEFC, Ye Jianming, and other officers connected to CEFC, potentially make them agents of the Chinese government.”
Grassley began the letter by stating that he had served “in both the Obama and Trump administrations, I have conducted oversight of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lax and selective enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).” He explained, “FARA is an important statute that was designed not to prohibit activity but rather to require individuals to register with the DOJ if they are acting as an agent of a foreign government or enterprise to influence U.S. policy or public opinion. This helps ensure transparency and accountability in the public policy arena. FARA is a content-neutral law and does not require any entity or individual to refrain from certain types of speech or activities.”
Grassley noted, “FARA requires individuals to register with the Department of Justice if they act, even through an intermediary, ‘as an agent, representative, employee, or servant’ or in ‘any other capacity’ at the behest of a foreign principal, including a foreign political party, government, or corporation, for purposes of engagement with a United States official to influence U.S. policy or the public.”
Proper enforcement of, and compliance with, FARA remains a top priority of mine as foreign governments and enterprises continue to use agents within the United States as conduits to lobby for policy changes and engage in public relations activity for the benefit of foreign principals.
Sometimes, however, certain relationships appear to operate outside of the transparency requirements and spirit of FARA. For example, based on recently released emails, texts, and my recent report with Senator Johnson on conflicts of interest relating to Hunter Biden’s financial activities and those of his business associates, it appears that he and his uncle, James Biden, had significant connections to CEFC Chinese Energy Co. Ltd. (CEFC). The records also show that CEFC was an extension of the Chinese government and that CEFC intended to alter U.S. policy and public opinion to its benefit and that the Chinese government would be the principal beneficiary of those actions.
Grassley stated bluntly, “CEFC is clearly a foreign principal as defined by FARA and Hunter Biden’s and James Biden’s work for CEFC directly benefitted the communist Chinese government thereby making them potential agents of that government.”
Grassley noted that Ye and Hunter Biden “formed a lucrative financial relationship that resulted in Hunter Biden receiving millions of dollars” while Ye and CEFC gained access to lucrative U.S. opportunities.
“When the available evidence is taken as a whole, it is clear that CEFC intended to make inroads in the United States for the purpose of expanding its business and used Hunter Biden and his business associates to help effectuate that intent. In pursuit of its goals, it appears that CEFC may have taken action to influence U.S. policy and public opinion in its favor and gain access to several U.S. politicians in an attempt to curry favor for potential business transactions,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley concluded, “Based on the information acquired to date, CEFC was controlled by a foreign government, received financial support therefrom, and may have engaged in activity to influence the U.S. Government and public for the benefit of the communist Chinese government. Accordingly, the actions by Hunter Biden and James Biden on behalf of CEFC, Ye Jianming, and other officers connected to CEFC, potentially make them agents of the Chinese government for purposes of longstanding public disclosure laws. The American public deserves to know when foreign entities are operating in and attempting to influence U.S. policy and public opinion.”