It’s not a smoking gun on official corruption, but it stinks nonetheless. Joe Biden has always insisted that he had nothing to do with Hunter Biden’s business dealings, but newly uncovered e-mails strongly suggest otherwise. Fox News reports that the communications show that Biden wrote a college recommendation for the son of an executive in China engaged in business dealings with Hunter:

President Biden, in 2017, wrote a college recommendation letter for the son of a Chinese executive who did business with Hunter Biden, according to emails reviewed by Fox News Digital. …

In an email dated Jan. 3, 2017, and sent to Hunter Biden and his business associates Devon Archer and Jim Bolger, CEO of BHR Jonathan Li writes:

“Gentlmen[sic], please find the attached resume of my son, Chris Li. He is applying the following colleges for this year,” Li writes, listing Brown University, Cornell University, and New York University.

Eventually, Hunter asked The Big Guy to pen the letter, and Rosemont Seneca made sure Li knew it:

Several weeks later, on Feb. 18, 2017, Eric Schwerin, who served as president of Rosemont Seneca, replied to Li.

“Jonathan, Hunter asked me to send you a copy of the recommendation letter that he asked his father to write on behalf of Christopher for Brown University,” Schwerin wrote.

“The original is being FedExed to Dr. Paxson directly at Brown,” Schwerin wrote. “It should be there by Tuesday at the latest (given Monday is a holiday here in the U.S.). Let us know if you have any questions. Best, Eric.”

Note the dates on these communications, though. In 2017, Joe Biden was a private citizen. If he wanted, Joe could have gone into business openly with Hunter and acted as a lobbyist for these Chinese interests. Writing a letter of recommendation for a Chinese executive’s son doesn’t break any laws, even if it looks pretty weird to have a former VP flacking for a rich teenager to get access to an Ivy League education while professing to be “Scranton Joe,” Man of the People.

But don’t get too cozy on the date of this exchange, as Hunter’s interactions with Li extend all the way back to the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term. Don’t forget that Hunter co-founded Rosemont Seneca with Archer and Christopher Heinz (stepson of John Kerry) in 2009. Hunter also had a 10% stake in BHR too, starting in 2013, and sat on the firm’s board. While Joe Biden was VP, BHR bought up cobalt-mining rights in Congo and a Chinese firm making batteries for electric vehicles (CATL), now one of the global leaders in that industry. BHR’s controlling interests are held by the state-owned Bank of China.

In December the New York Times started sniffing around those connections.  Hunter claimed to have divested his interests — but a lot more recently than 2017:

By the time BHR sold its share in 2019, Mr. Biden controlled 10 percent of the firm through Skaneateles L.L.C., a company based in Washington. While Chinese corporate records show Skaneateles remains a part owner of BHR, Chris Clark, a lawyer for Mr. Biden, said that he “no longer holds any interest, directly or indirectly, in either BHR or Skaneateles.” The Chinese records show that Mr. Biden was no longer on BHR’s board as of April 2020. Mr. Biden did not respond to requests for comment.

A former BHR board member told The New York Times that Mr. Biden and the other American founders were not involved in the mine deal and that the firm earned only a nominal fee from it. The money, the former board member said, went into the firm’s operating funds and was not distributed to its owners.

It is unclear how the firm was chosen by China Molybdenum. Current executives at BHR did not return emails and phone calls seeking comment. “We don’t know Hunter Biden, nor are we aware of his involvement in BHR,” Vincent Zhou, a spokesman for China Molybdenum, said in an email.

In other words, Li mattered a lot to Hunter’s business interests. Li clearly wanted to access the political connections at Rosemont Seneca, and in this case succeeded for personal reasons. The question is whether this was the first time that Hunter got “the Big Guy” to play ball on behalf of Hunter’s business clients, and whether Joe himself profited from those activities.

Is the Department of Justice looking into those questions? We already know that Hunter is the focus of a criminal probe involving lobbying issues and corruption at the DoJ, and may end up getting indicted sooner rather than later. If the Big Guy got his ten percent before 2017, it might not stop at Hunter. Stay tuned.

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