The House Ways and Means Committee released more than 700 pages of documents related to the committee’s investigation into Hunter Biden.
The trove contains email exchanges between prosecutors working on the Biden probe and FBI interview transcripts with witnesses who have insight into the Biden family’s business ventures. The evidence is certain to factor into House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into the president, which launched Wednesday.
Here are the main revelations from the document dump:
Hunter Biden prosecutor ordered investigators to remove reference to Joe Biden from search warrant.
A federal prosecutor on the Hunter Biden investigation ordered the FBI to remove references to then-candidate Joe Biden from a search warrant related to the probe.
In August 2020, FBI agents drafted a search warrant for the lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies that referenced the elder Biden as "Political Figure 1." But assistant U.S. attorney Lesley Wolf intervened to remove the reference to Biden on the grounds that it was outside the scope of the warrant.
"There should be nothing about Political Figure 1 in here," Wolf wrote in an email to FBI and IRS investigators.
The email adds to the growing evidence that the U.S. attorney’s office blocked investigators from pursuing leads related to the president. IRS investigators Gary Shapley and Joe Ziegler have claimed Wolf stymied several aspects of the investigation and tipped off Hunter Biden’s lawyers to a planned search of the first son’s storage unit in Virginia.
Wolf was removed from the prosecutorial team this year, for reasons yet to be explained.
Feds eyed sex trafficking charges against Hunter Biden.
Federal investigators compiled examples of Hunter Biden potentially violating a sex trafficking law called the Mann Act, according to emails.
On Oct. 21, 2020, IRS tax crimes prosecutor Jack Morgan forwarded a list of nine cases involving Biden and prostitutes to Wolf. Morgan highlighted three examples of Biden paying escorts to travel from Boston and New York to Los Angeles for sex.
Wolf forwarded the list to her colleagues, but that’s where the case appears to have ended. The U.S. attorney’s office has not charged Biden with sex trafficking offenses.
IRS whistleblowers previously revealed that Biden took tax deductions for payments he made to prostitutes and a Los Angeles sex club in 2014.
Hunter Biden signed threatening letter to Ukrainian prosecutor.
Hunter Biden claims in his memoir that his work for Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings "centered on monitoring corporate practices and suggesting improvements" and finding international energy deals for the Ukrainian energy conglomerate.
But Biden, who served on Burisma’s board of directors, appears to have done much more than that, according to one document from the latest trove. Biden signed a letter on July 9, 2016, that called on Ukrainian prosecutors to pull back on an ongoing corruption investigation into Burisma and its owner, Nikolay Zlochevskyi.
"It is imperative that allegations of criminal activity made to the media about Burisma and/or Nikolay Zlochevskyi come to an end," says the letter, which was authored by Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic lobbying firm that worked for Burisma.
"We, as advisories and fiduciaries, respectfully request that during the term of your investigation that you refrain from any further allegations and that the energy sales and services Burisma’s [sic] provides to Ukrainian businesses as well as others not be impeded in any way."
The letter came months after then-vice president Joe Biden forced Ukraine’s prime minister to fire Viktor Shokin as general prosecutor. Biden bragged in 2018 that he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine unless Shokin was fired. Republicans have alleged that Biden wanted Shokin removed because he was investigating Burisma, a claim the president has denied.
But Republicans are likely to argue that by signing the threatening letter, Hunter Biden sent a signal to Ukrainian prosecutors to end its investigation of Burisma. Hunter Biden has acknowledged that his family ties were an asset to Burisma.
"There’s no question my last name was a coveted credential," he writes in his memoir.
The case against Burisma was closed in September 2016.
Hunter Biden's Consulting firm exploited connections to the Atlantic Council
The owners of Blue Star Strategies touted their connections to American government officials and think tanks as part of their lobbying pitch to Burisma Holdings.
A primary target was the Atlantic Council, one of the most influential foreign policy think tanks.
In a business proposal presented to Burisma in October 2015, Blue Star said it planned to seek out "influencers" in order to burnish Burisma’s image, which had taken a beating amid multiple corruption investigations. Blue Star Strategies identified Atlantic Council official John Herbst as one of its potential influencers. Herbst served as ambassador to Ukraine and is a widely respected expert on issues related to Eurasia.
"Our experiences demonstrate that successful global companies utilize a variety of public and private resources to influence government decisions to positively impact their business activities," Blue Star Strategies wrote in its pitch to Burisma.
"There are influencers and resources that could be activated to support the Company’s business goals."
The plan worked. Months later, Blue Star Strategies arranged a deal for Burisma to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Atlantic Council. In exchange, the think tank hosted events for Burisma and touted the company’s claims to seek energy independence from Russia. Herbst attended events alongside Blue Star Strategies officials and Burisma.
The Atlantic Council’s work for Burisma has been a source of controversy for the think tank.
In 2021, Blue Star Strategies registered as a foreign agent of Burisma as part of a deal with the Department of Justice to avoid illegal foreign lobbying charges. Neither the Atlantic Council nor Hunter Biden have registered as foreign agents for the Ukrainian firm.
‘Missing’ whistleblower told FBI of Biden-China connections in 2019
The House Ways and Means Committee’s release included a much-anticipated summary of Israeli-American businessman Gal Luft’s interview with the FBI about Hunter Biden’s ties to China.
In a meeting with FBI agents in Brussels in March 2019, Luft provided extensive details about the links between Biden and CEFC China Energy, a Chinese energy conglomerate with ties to Chinese intelligence. Luft, who was a consultant for CEFC China Energy, said the company paid Biden and his uncle James Biden a monthly retainer of $165,000. He also detailed millions of dollars in payments to Hunter Biden and his business associates.
According to Luft, CEFC China Energy chairman Ye Jianming "frequently bragged" about his connections to Joe and Hunter Biden. Luft claimed the Bidens met with Ye at the Four Seasons hotel in Washington, D.C., in late 2016, when Joe Biden was still vice president.
Luft also claimed Ye paid millions of dollars to Hunter Biden in order to "build a political asylum request" to protect him from an investigation by Chinese authorities.
The Justice Department indicted Luft in November on foreign agent charges related to his work with CEFC China Energy. He is also accused of various sanctions violations. He claims the Biden administration has gone after him because of the information he shared about the Bidens’ ties to CEFC China Energy.
Hunter Biden believed his Chinese partner was close friends with Xi Jinping
James Biden, the president’s younger brother, told the FBI last year that his nephew believed CEFC China Energy chairman Ye Jianming had deep ties to Chinese president Xi Jinping.
"James B noted that [Hunter Biden] portrayed CEFC to him as Chairman Ye was a protege of President Xi," according to an FBI summary of James Biden’s interview.
Despite speculation that Ye was tied to the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, the Biden family pursued business deals with CEFC China Energy. Hunter and James Biden negotiated one deal that would have given CEFC China Energy control of a natural gas terminal off the coast of Louisiana.
According to James Biden, he lobbied officials in the Louisiana governor’s office to fast-track permits for the deal. But the plans fell apart after Ye was arrested in China in 2018.