While his father was vice president in 2016, Hunter Biden met with a State Department official on behalf of a Romanian businessman who paid the troubled first son more than $1 million to help his corruption case, raising questions about whether the younger Biden engaged in unregistered foreign lobbying.
A review of emails and documents on Hunter Biden's laptop reveal a March 2016 meeting with then-U.S. ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm on the topic of a corruption case against Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian real estate tycoon. Popoviciu made more than $1 million in wire payments to Biden from November 2015 to June 2017 as he battled the corruption charges in his home country, according to a report released last week by the House Oversight Committee. While on Popoviciu's payroll, Biden met twice with Klemm, first in November 2015 and again in March 2016.
Biden, who was a consultant for the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner at the time, worked with lawyers from the firm to lobby the U.S. embassy in Bucharest to intervene in Popoviciu's case, emails show. Boies Schiller partner Christopher Boies told Biden in a Sept. 1, 2015, email that his law partner—whom he never identified—was "best friends" with the newly appointed ambassador to Romania, Hans Klemm.
Popoviciu’s first wire payment to Biden came just two months later on Nov. 9, 2015, for $59,900, according to the House Oversight report. Four days after that, Biden and Boies Schiller partner Michael Gottlieb discussed a meeting with Klemm and provided him reports about the Popoviciu case, which they said showed the corruption charges were bogus. The emails indicate that Biden attended the meeting, and Biden’s calendar shows a meeting with Klemm at Lapis restaurant in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 2016.
Emails show that Klemm was receptive to the reports and arranged meetings for the Biden consortium with Romanian officials. On May 17, 2016, Gottlieb contacted Klemm to seek help in meeting with Romania’s anti-corruption service, the DNA. Gottlieb wrote to Biden and others that "the USEMB [U.S. embassy] has primed this for us."
Neither Hunter Biden nor Boies Schiller registered as lobbyists for Popoviciu, who was ultimately convicted of bribery in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison. Biden's lawyers and Boies Schiller did not return a request for comment.
The foreign payments to Biden could complicate the federal investigation into the first son. Many Republicans have expressed frustration that prosecutors have ignored Biden’s foreign business dealings, or what appears to be his unregistered foreign lobbying. The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires individuals to disclose their lobbying activity to Congress, and the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires them to disclose lobbying on behalf of foreign nationals like Popoviciu to the Justice Department.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said the Justice Department’s disinterest in Hunter Biden’s lobbying shows there is "one set of rules for the president’s family and one for everyone else."
"No one is buying that the Biden Administration can credibly investigate Biden family corruption," Issa told the Washington Free Beacon.
It’s not the first time that Hunter Biden and Boies Schiller, led by Democratic mega donor David Boies, contacted the State Department on behalf of foreign clients without registering as lobbyists.
The Free Beacon reported that Biden and lawyers from Boies Schiller hatched a plan in 2014 to meet with State Department officials on behalf of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company whose owner was accused of bribery. A Boies Schiller partner wrote to Biden that she would arrange State Department meetings and conduct other activity "right up to the line" where the firm would have to register as a lobbyist.
A consulting firm that Biden tapped to work with him on the Burisma case, Blue Star Strategies, registered its work for the Ukrainian company under the Foreign Agents Registration Act following a Justice Department investigation into its foreign lobbying.
Biden also crafted a plan to lobby the State Department on behalf of the Chinese private equity firm BHR Partners, the Free Beacon reported. Biden’s business partners sought a State Department meeting to land public approval of an initiative they hoped would help them get contracts in China. Biden offered to provide "whatever you need" in terms of contact with the State Department. Emails show that Biden’s longtime business partner, Eric Schwerin, met with State Department official Evan Ryan to discuss the initiative.
Ryan is the wife of Secretary of State Tony Blinken and currently serves as White House Cabinet officer.