Hunter Biden knew he was working with associates who were high up in Chinese intelligence circles, according to a new report.
The report published Monday by Yahoo News delves into the connections between Hunter Biden and Patrick Ho, referred to as Patrick Ho Chi-ping in some reports concerning Ho’s 2018 bribery conviction that was linked to arms dealing and bribery in Africa.
Yahoo’s report is written by Michael Isikoff, its chief investigative correspondent, and Zach Dorfman, its national security correspondent. Both are veteran and respected journalists.
(Isikoff is probably best known as the reporter then working for Newseek who had the story in 1998 about independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of then-President Bill Clinton and his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, but lost the scoop to the Drudge Report because Newsweek sat on it.)
Ho, who was a former Hong Kong government minister, and Ye Jianming, an energy tycoon who had links in his past to China’s People’s Liberation Army, had formed a business partnership with Hunter Biden and James Biden, who is President Joe Biden’s brother.
In November 2017, Ho was arrested by FBI agents at New York’s JFK Airport as part of what Isikoff and Dorfman called “an audacious plot to dole out millions of dollars in bribes to African leaders in exchange for major energy contracts that appeared to advance Chinese government interests.”
Yahoo reported in 2018 that Ho’s first phone call after his arrest was to James Biden. He asked Biden to get him a lawyer.
According to the report published Monday, the infamous Hunter Biden laptop contained an audio recording from May 11, 2018, between Hunter Biden and a woman who has not been identified.
Hunter Biden complained about a reporter for the New York Times who was asking about Ho.
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Ho is “literally the f—ing spy chief of China,” Biden says in the conversation, according to Yahoo News.
That same conversation, according to the report, includes Hunter Biden talking about phone calls from his father as the news media was delving into Hunter Biden’s business dealings. President Joe Biden has always denied involvement in the business dealings of Hunter Biden or other family members.
In the recorded call, Hunter Biden complained that Ye, whom he called “my partner” and “the richest man in the world” had gone missing, Yahoo News reported. In fact, Ye has not been seen in public since that time.
By then, according to the report, Hunter Biden was already in deep.
Over 14 months beginning in 2017 and ending in 2018, Isikoff and Dorfman wrote, the Chinese company CEFC China Energy, which Ye founded and whose nonprofit arm was run by Ho, paid out $4.8 million to an investment firm hunter Biden controlled.
Documents obtained by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa show that $1.4 million then went to James Biden’s consulting firm, the article stated.
Other documents from the laptop that now have been declared authentic by The Washington Post and unearthed as well by Grassley show that Hunter Biden received $1 million as a retainer from Ho, although there is no explanation of what work he actually did for that money.
Existing documents make it unclear what Hunter Biden did to advance Ho’s interests, but Ho’s trial in Manhattan shed some light on the man himself.
“What emerged in his indictment and later trial and conviction in federal court was a revealing portrait of Chinese influence peddling that included allegations that Ho arranged to broker arms deals — including the sale of rocket and grenade launchers — to countries in war zones in Africa and the Middle East,” Yahoo News reported.
It is unclear if Hunter Biden was aware of any of those activities.
“There’s no question that Chinese intelligence services look for every possible opportunity to get close to family members of high-ranking officials,” said Frank Figliuzzi, former chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, according to the Yahoo report, which made a point of noting that Figliuzzi has been skeptical of conservative media coverage of the Hunter Biden story.
“I believe that the information we’ve learned is something that merits a review by the counterintelligence arm of the FBI,” Figluiuzzi said in the article.
There’s “no doubt Hunter presents CI [counterintelligence] vulnerabilities,” said another former senior FBI official, who asked not to be named, according to the report.
The Yahoo report notes that the laptop’s emails “reveal a high-dollar money trail that flowed from Chinese interests to Hunter and James Biden and which now appears to be at the heart of an ongoing Justice Department criminal investigation.”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind, a prosecutor in Ho’s 2018 trial had no doubt about the former Hong Kong minister’s character.
Ho’s “actions were corrupt and they were criminal, and he knew it,” said Douglas Zolkind, a prosecutor during Ho’s trial at federal court in Manhattan.
“That’s why he carried out these schemes from his perch as the head of a nonprofit NGO, where he could gain access to world leaders under the guise of someone interested in humanitarian goals.”
Ho was convicted on seven counts of money laundering, conspiracy, and foreign lobbying violations in December 2018. He was sentenced to three years in prison.