Now that the elections are over, the investigation is entering a new phase. Delaware federal prosecutors are working with the IRS Criminal Investigation Agency and the FBI to take open steps, such as issuing subpoenas and requesting an interview, the knowledgeable person said.
Investigative activity in recent months has been largely dormant due to Ministry of Justice policies banning overt actions that affect elections, he said.
CNN contacted Biden’s attorney and the campaign this week to ask for an opinion on the investigation. A statement acknowledging the trial was issued on Wednesday.
“I first learned yesterday that the U.S. Law Firm in Delaware also advised my solicitor yesterday to investigate my tax cases. I take this case very seriously, but I trust that a professional and objective review of these cases will show that my cases are lawful. and I have handled it properly, including the benefits of professional tax advisors, ”Hunter Biden said in a statement.
Investigators have investigated several financial issues, including whether Hunter Biden and colleagues violated tax and money laundering laws in business dealings in foreign countries, primarily China, say two people informed of the probe.
Some of these transactions involved people who, in the FBI’s view, sparked intelligence concerns, a common issue in Chinese business, according to another source.
The investigation began as early as 2018, ahead of William Barr’s arrival as U.S. Attorney General, two people said of the investigation. The existence of the probe puts an immediate test on Biden’s promise to maintain the independence of the Department of Justice.
The Sinclair Broadcast Group reported in October that the FBI had launched a criminal investigation against Hunter Biden. CNN has learned new details about the scope of the probe, including its focus on China.
A mysterious laptop
The clue came to light after President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, helped arrange the news, which focused on a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden, and said it also contained his business documents and other personal materials.
The FBI took possession of the laptop in late 2019, according to a computer repairer in Delaware who presented a subpoena to reporters. The subpoena is real, according to people informed of the case, but the FBI and Delaware prosecutors have refused to confirm the existence of the investigation.
It is unclear whether the contents of the laptop are relevant to the ongoing federal investigation and investigators may even use them, given the requirements of a possible chain of custody for the evidence.
CNN has previously reported that Giuliani claims that at least some of the information from the laptop appears to be similar to the information that others shared in Ukraine last year, according to one witness the FBI sought. Giuliani’s efforts last year to excavate the dirt in Bidens Ukraine have been at the heart of Trump’s accountability. The current investigation against Hunter Biden appears to have preceded these efforts.
The involvement of Trump’s lawyers in the news on the alleged Biden laptop led to a boom in the activities of Republican lawmakers and the Trump campaign, which sought to reinforce allegations of corruption ahead of the election. The FBI met with a former Hunter Biden business associate who publicly made allegations about possible violations. The FBI issued a statement at the time that “as a general matter, when contacted, the FBI will review information from the public to consider possible violations of applicable federal laws.”
The political consequences of the probe have been raised in recent months for Barr, who has been put under public pressure by Trump to make Hunter Biden’s business an election issue. According to the two main sources described in the case, the investigation to date has not included any allegation of an election president violation. Barr has publicly stated that no investigation has been launched against Biden the Elder, despite Trump’s public campaign urging Barr to announce corruption cases in both Bidens.
At the heart of China
Investigators appear to be focusing on Hunter Biden’s business related to China. Some of his business dealings in China are publicly known through interviews and documents issued by Senate Republicans in the Senate in the Finance Committee and the Homeland Security and Government Committee in September.
After his father left office in 2017, Hunter Biden was working to sign an agreement with CEFC China Energy to invest in U.S. energy projects, according to documents released by Republicans.
At least one of the cases investigated was a 2017 gift of a 2.8-carat diamond that Hunter Biden received from CEFC founder and former president Ye Jianming after a business meeting in Miami, a person said in the case. In 2019, Biden handed over the takeover of the diamond from Ye to New Yorker magazine. He told the New Yorker that he was uncomfortable after taking the diamond and handed it to his other co-workers and didn’t know what had been done to him. “I knew it wasn’t a good idea to take it away. I just felt weird,” he said in a New Yorker interview.
Hunter Biden told the New Yorker that the CEFC agreement had failed and that he did not consider you a shadowy character. You were later detained by Chinese authorities, and Chinese media reported allegations of corruption against him.
In a magazine interview, Hunter Biden went public when he reported on his personal struggles, including drug use and the dissolution of his marriage. During his changeover process, his ex-wife’s attorneys quoted a diamond that Biden received and suggested it was worth $ 80,000. Biden told the New Yorker it was worth about $ 10,000.
Receiving such a gift could have potential tax consequences for Biden, and his New Yorker bill does not describe how he handled the problem afterwards. Sources tell CNN that investigators have been investigating for some time whether Biden has reported his income properly for tax purposes. While the diamond was originally part of the investigation, it is unclear whether the gift remains the focus of investigators.
Hunter Biden later briefly acted as a lawyer on behalf of Patrick Ho, who led the CEFC-sponsored organization and was convicted in 2018 of bribing millions of dollars in Chad and Uganda to officials to benefit from CEFC energy projects in those countries. Ho was sentenced to three years in federal prison. He has since been released and returned to Hong Kong, his lawyer said.
Hunter Biden was involved in a former Chinese business that caused concern in the Obama White House and Joe Biden’s staff, according to the New Yorker. In 2013, Hunter Biden contacted U.S. and Chinese partners to create an investment fund called BHR Partners for transactions outside China. Hunter Biden was an unpaid board member of the BHR and acquired a stake in capital after his father left office, the New Yorker reported.
A challenge for a new president
In an interview with CNN last week to Jake Tapper, President-elect Biden promised to maintain an independent Department of Justice free from political influence.
“I’m not going to tell them what to do and what not to do. I’m not going to tell them to prosecute A, B or C,” Biden said.
“It’s not that role – it’s not my Department of Justice. It’s the people’s Ministry of Justice.
“The person or persons I select to lead the department will be people who will have independent abilities to decide who will be prosecuted and against whom,” Biden said.
Congressional Republicans will almost certainly seize the probe to further spread their argument that Hunter Biden’s Chinese activities are a sign of his father’s conflict of interest when it comes to dealing with foreign policy in Beijing.
It is also likely to be an issue that Biden’s candidate for attorney general will have to face during the Senate confirmation hearing.
Trump faced a similar but much more pressing problem after taking office in 2017, when his then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had to quickly withdraw from overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and possible links to Russian intervention in the 2016 election.
Sessions were part of the president’s election campaign and held talks with the then-Russian ambassador, which became part of the FBI investigation.
Biden’s prospective lawyer candidates are unaware of such mergers.