Hunter Biden Lied to Congress About Threatening Text Message to Chinese Business Partner, Republicans Say

Hunter Biden (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
May 22, 2024

Hunter Biden lied to Congress about invoking his father's name to threaten his Chinese business partners in 2017, say House Republicans, who on Wednesday released a trove of new documents that they say "indisputably" shows the embattled first son committed a federal felony.

"Lying during sworn testimony is a felony offense that the Department of Justice has prosecuted numerous individuals for in recent years, and the American people expect the same accountability for the son of the President of the United States," said Rep. Jason Smith (R., Mo.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

At issue is a series of encrypted messages that Hunter Biden sent on July 30, 2017, in which he demanded a multimillion-dollar payment from CEFC China Energy, a Chinese conglomerate with which he was doing business.

"I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled," Hunter Biden wrote that day to a CEFC China Energy official identified as Zhao. "I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction."

Hunter Biden in his Feb. 28 deposition threw cold water on the text message, claiming that he sent the text to "the wrong Zhao" and that the recipient was unaffiliated with CEFC China Energy. The recipient, Biden said, "had no understanding or even remotely knew what the hell I was even Goddamn talking about."

But Smith released phone records that he says "indisputably" show Biden lied about the messages. According to Smith, the records show that Biden communicated with only one person with the surname Zhao—a CEFC China Energy official named Raymond Zhao. The messages show that Zhao responded to Biden's threatening text messages and "knew exactly what Hunter Biden was talking about." Biden and Zhao communicated at the same phone number for the next three months "regarding matters related to CEFC," according to Smith.

In a message on Aug. 3, 2017, Zhao relayed a message from CEFC China Energy director Zang Jianjun in which he extended "his best regards to you, Jim [Biden] and VP," an apparent reference to Joe Biden.

Smith said that Hunter Biden's "lies under oath" call into question other aspects of his testimony.

It is unclear if Hunter Biden was indeed sitting next to Joe Biden when he sent the July 30, 2017, threat, but the Washington Free Beacon reported that the younger Biden was at his father's home on the same day he sent the message.

Republicans have cited the text messages as evidence that Joe Biden was more deeply involved in his son's Chinese business ventures than he has acknowledged. The elder Biden said in 2019 he had no knowledge of Hunter Biden's business activities. Since then, several witnesses have testified they met with Hunter and Joe Biden to discuss business in China, Ukraine, and elsewhere.

Hunter Biden, who will soon face trial on felony gun and tax evasion charges, has denied that his father had any direct involvement in his business activities.

The first son's relationship with CEFC China Energy has long been a source of mystery, in large part because Hunter Biden appears to have done little, if any, work for the company. CEFC China Energy, which has ties to Chinese military intelligence, approached Biden in 2015 to secure energy and infrastructure deals in the United States and other Western countries. The company wired Biden's company, Hudson West III, $5 million in early August 2017, days after the threatening text messages.

Biden attempted to broker a deal for CEFC China Energy to purchase a natural gas terminal in Louisiana, but the project eventually fell through. Another source of mystery is CEFC China Energy's $1 million payment to Biden in late 2017 to represent executive Patrick Ho, who had been indicted for attempting to bribe African officials for oil rights. Biden appears not to have performed any legal work for Ho, to whom he referred in a May 2018 audio recording as "the fucking spy chief of China."

Biden attorney Abbe Lowell did not respond to a request for comment.