A review by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project of documents recently released by the Justice Department reveals that for nearly three years, the agency actively has hindered congressional probes into a Chinese businessman associated with Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

Patrick Ho, also known as Hé Zhìpíng, is a Chinese national who was a prominent figure at the conglomerate CEFC China Energy. In 2019, Ho was convicted of international bribery and money laundering.

CEFC China Energy focused on the expansion of Communist China’s One Belt One Road initiative across multiple continents before being absorbed in 2018 by Chinese government interests through bankruptcy.

As revealed in court documents, the FBI had monitored Ho’s communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, from as early as June 2016 until FBI agents arrested him in late November 2017.

This period of electronic surveillance by the FBI overlapped with the time in which President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was engaged in business with CEFC China Energy during 2017, the year that Biden left the vice presidency.

The timing highlights the likelihood that the younger Biden’s communications with CEFC employees and affiliates were captured by the FBI in a court-approved warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Despite repeated assertions of innocence and disavowals of influence peddling or pay-to-play practices by the Biden White House, the unfolding of the Ho case saw prosecutors obtain some 35,000 pages of related documents in discovery.

An extensive body of evidence, derived from a combination of FISA surveillance and seized devices, suggests a significant connection between CEFC China Energy and the Chinese government. Numerous requests by Heritage’s Oversight Project under the Freedom of Information Act, directed at over 15 agencies, consistently appeared to be obstructed. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news outlet.)

This reluctance to ease further investigation could be interpreted as a concerted, whole-of-government effort to shield the involvement of Hunter Biden’s joint venture with CEFC China Energy.

The arrangement was described this way by the younger Biden, now 53, in leaked emails: “CEFC or more accurately Chairman Yi [Ye] and I have agreed to a [50/50 joint venture] to deploy CEFC/his money to fund infrastructure projects in the Americas, financial firms, energy around the globe and non-militarized technology.”

This description prompted calls for further investigation from congressional lawmakers, who cited the current state of U.S.-China relations and the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry into the president’s actions.

Ye Jianming, the chairman of CEFC China Energy, maintained significant connections with China’s People’s Liberation Army. These associations continued until Ye’s arrest by the Chinese government on suspicion of corruption in early 2018, when the energy conglomerate faced a dramatic decline that culminated in bankruptcy.

Subsequently, state-controlled enterprises assumed control of CEFC China Energy’s assets.

The Justice Department largely has left unanswered repeated inquiries from Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, about the FBI’s surveillance of Ho under the FISA warrant. The two senators’ inquiries began in early 2021, when the elder Biden became president, and have continued without substantial response for nearly three years.

Obstruction by the Justice Department, parent agency to the FBI, has occurred simultaneously amid abuses perpetrated by the larger intelligence community—with little congressional recourse and oversight.

The president and his son consistently have denied any wrongdoing. The younger Biden said last week, in defying a House subpoena to be interviewed behind closed doors, that his father was not “financially involved” in his overseas business deals.

Heritage’s Oversight Project previously released a detailed memorandum that provides an investigatory road map for congressional investigators pertaining to the Ho legal case.

In August 2017, about three months before the FBI arrested Ho, CEFC China Energy had entered a joint venture with members of the Biden family.

This joint venture with the Chinese energy conglomerate began about seven months after Joe Biden’s eight-year vice presidency under Barack Obama ended in January 2017. Biden previously served 36 years in the Senate representing Delaware.

Emails leaked from the contents of Hunter Biden’s infamous “laptop from hell” show drafts of an operating agreement for Hudson West III LLC, the name of the joint venture between the Bidens and CEFC China Energy. These drafts, shared Aug. 4, 2017, between Hunter Biden and Sara Biden, the wife of the president’s younger brother, James Biden, were part of discussions about potential revisions to core operational documents.

On Aug. 8, 2017, the Bidens’ Hudson West III LLC received initial funding through a $5 million nonrecourse loan from CEFC China Energy, which was deposited into the LLC’s account at Cathay Bank.

The next month, Hunter Biden asked personnel at the House of Sweden, a building in the tony D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown that is home to the embassies of Sweden and Iceland, to display signage for “Hudson West (CEFC US)” for office space he leased there.

According to documents reviewed by Heritage’s Oversight Project, the Bidens’ Hudson West joint venture aimed to establish a pipeline for one to three infrastructure development deals a year.

These development deals weren’t fully realized, however, because the FBI arrested CEFC China Energy’s Ho shortly afterward, in late November 2017, in New York City.

In the Ho indictment, Special Agent Thomas McNulty of the FBI’s New York field office described how Ho, representing CEFC, coordinated with foreign heads of state regarding economic investment–a role typically associated with direct diplomacy. 

McNulty, presumably the FBI’s lead case agent on the Ho investigation, likely reviewed the bureau’s electronic surveillance of Ho authorized under the FISA warrant.

Besides arresting Ho, the FBI raided several CEFC offices, including in Arlington, Virginia, as well as New York. Ho’s arrest occurred months after CEFC set up the joint venture with the Biden family and coordination began on several potential deals involving liquid natural gas in Louisiana.

While Ho was detained and facing charges of international bribery and money laundering, he sought assistance from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, according to court documents of transcribed communications.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons continues to block the Oversight Project’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act for transcripts of more conversations Ho had during his detention and incarceration.

Concurrently, Hunter Biden, who has a law degree, was engaged as Ho’s personal counsel for the case. Ho ultimately hired the law firm of Krieger Kim & Lewin LLP to handle his case.

The situation in which the younger Biden was Ho’s legal representative presents a potential conflict of interest and raises questions about possible national security implications in the justice system.

The Justice Department has not addressed or clarified the issue, leading to concerns about the roles and actions of both the DOJ and FBI in handling trial-related aspects of the Ho case.

The presence of a Justice Department counterespionage attorney, Patrick Murphy, in the Ho case raises additional questions regarding CEFC China Energy’s activities in the United States. The involvement of such a lawyer likely points to larger inferences that the energy conglomerate had links to Chinese intelligence.

In leaked audio recordings from Hunter Biden’s laptop, the president’s son refers to Ho as the “f—ing spy chief of China,” indicating that he was aware that CEFC China Energy had direct ties to the Chinese government.

Ho’s court case sparked considerable debate among scholars, academics, and the intelligence community over whether CEFC China Energy acted under the direct authority of the Chinese government in advancing the One Belt One Road initiative.

The outcome of legal proceedings that suggest potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by Hunter Biden remains to be seen. These proceedings include the ongoing investigation of the younger Biden by DOJ-appointed special counsel David Weiss and additional lawsuits against the Justice Department.

These proceedings are significant because the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires public disclosure by individuals and entities that represent foreign interests.

This debate stems from CEFC China Energy’s involvement in activities typically associated with nation-states, such as arms deals and infrastructure agreements, suggesting direct links to the Communist Chinese government.

Court documents show that the U.S. government presented emails detailing that Ho offered to “arrange meetings between officials of CEFC Energy and Iranian officials, apparently so that they could discuss potential transactions involving oil or precious metals.”

These documents also discuss the admissibility of evidence pertaining to Ho’s relationship with evading sanctions and brokering arms deals.

Following bankruptcy proceedings in early 2018, CEFC China Energy’s assets were taken over by a Shanghai-based government investment arm, Shanghai Guosheng Group.

In March, as part of his House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s continuing oversight, Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter to Vuk Jeremic, a Serbian politician and former CEFC China Energy associate. Comer’s letter specifically asked whether the Justice Department had redacted Hunter Biden’s name from a particular exhibit in the Ho case.

Conservative scholars broadly contend that the Justice Department and subordinate agencies, such as the FBI, have become excessively powerful. They point to the agencies’ ability to ignore congressional inquiries and oversight without facing significant consequences, other than public hearings and news segments on some media outlets.

With the House’s now-formalized impeachment inquiry into the president, the need for timely information may lead congressional investigators to adopt compulsory methods such as depositions and transcribed interviews sooner than usual.

These methods often are reserved for situations involving prolonged delays and hostile witnesses. They aim to quickly secure direct responses from essential individuals, such as case agents in the FBI’s New York field office who would have firsthand knowledge of the Ho-Biden connections.

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