by Tom Fitton –
Our government doesn’t assume that every business investment opportunity is good for our country, and so there are checks in place, including something called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). CFIUS is commissioned to review “transactions involving foreign investment in the U.S. to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.”
What does CFIUS know about Hunter Biden’s questionable overseas ventures? The agency is playing its cards close to the vest. So we are suing the State and Treasury Departments for information on CFIUS’ handling of investments in the U.S. by two companies tied to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The companies are Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings and China’s Bohai Harvest RST (BHR).
We sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the departments failed to respond to June 24, 2019, FOIA requests for CFIUS records related to investments by the Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings LTD or any of its affiliated entities and records related to investments by the Chinese company Bohai Harvest RST or any of its affiliated entities (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:19-cv-02960)), (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of the Treasury (No. 1:19-cv-02961).
Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, is reported to be one of nine directors of BHR Partners, which was registered 12 days after the vice president’s son, in December 2013, flew to Beijing aboard Air Force Two, while his father made an official visit as vice president. Hunter Biden, then-chairman of the private equity firm Rosemont Seneca, reportedly signed a deal with the Chinese government-owned Bank of China to set up the BHR $1 billion joint venture investment fund.
In 2015, BHR Partners participated in a $600 million buyout of Michigan automotive-suspension-systems maker Henniges Automotive. Henniges produces anti-vibration technologies which have important military uses, particularly in military aircraft.
In April 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings, one of the Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies. Hunter was reportedly paid $50,000 a month to, in the words of a Burmisa news release, “provide support for the Company among international organizations.” Biden has denied that was his role.
In 2015, Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, launched an investigation into allegedly corrupt practices by Burisma. Shokin was ousted in 2016. And in a widely distributed 2018 video, Joe Biden confirmed that he had successfully pressured the Ukrainian government, under threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. government aid, to fire Shokin. (In September, we sued the State Department for records about the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold aid.)
The Commerce Department recently barred over two dozen Chinese companies from doing business in the U.S., one of which is reported to be Megvii Technology, an artificial intelligence company focused on developing facial recognition technology. BHR Partners owns a stake in Megvii.
Have no doubt: We will continue to press for information to get to the bottom of this influence-peddling scandal involving Joe Biden and his son. As Congress is obsessed with attacking President Trump, it is again up to us to do the basic investigative work on this growing scandal.
Judicial Watch Battles in Court
to Question Hillary Clinton Under Oath
Here’s an update on the Clinton email deposition.
A federal court will soon rule on whether Hillary Clinton and her top aide can be questioned under oath by our lawyers about her email and Benghazi controversies. The court has already granted us additional discovery and is now considering Clinton’s objections, filed on September 23, to being questioned. We filed our response to Clinton on October 3 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)).
The court previously ordered discovery into three specific areas: whether Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server was intended to stymie FOIA; whether the State Department’s intent to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith; and whether the State Department has adequately searched for records responsive to our request. The court specifically ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers and Clinton aides to be deposed or answer written questions under oath. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”
On August 22, 2019, the court then ruled that Clinton and Mills had 30 days to oppose being questioned in person under oath by us related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Additionally, we were granted seven new depositions, three interrogatories and four document requests. In granting the additional discovery, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth commented: “I’ll tell you everything they’ve discovered in this period raises serious questions about what the hell the State Department’s doing here.”
Clinton’s lawyers, in opposing the request to question her, argued that she’s already answered all important questions about her emails and Benghazi. We reject this, noting her answers about her email use raise additional, important questions:
Judicial Watch should be permitted to directly question Secretary Clinton about her motives, thoughts, and efforts regarding the “convenience” she relies upon in justifying her use of a secret, private server and email address in direct violation of federal records laws and State Department policies.
Clinton also suggests that her emails would have been captured by State Department records systems, which is contradicted by Tasha Thian, a retired senior State records official, we recently questioned:
According to Ms. Thian’s testimony, there are at least six occasions Secretary Clinton was or should have been fully informed of federal records management, including email records, and compliance responsibilities. Yet Secretary Clinton’s actual understanding of her obligations with respect to official State Department records is completely absent from the record.
Thian implied that it was inconceivable that Clinton was not aware of her obligations regarding federal records and email management:
I don’t understand why she would come up with this statements that she was allowed – or how she would save record email by emailing another employee’s account. She had resources there aplenty. So it just doesn’t make sense to me.
[Even before taking office, Secretary Clinton] knew we had a process.
Additionally, Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, testifying on whether Clinton understood that FOIA applied to the clintonemail.com system, stated that we “would have to ask Mrs. Clinton.”
Hillary Clinton is now joking about her emails even as she seeks to avoid being questioned on this serious scandal. The court has found that this email use and cover-up are no joking matter.
Last month, the State Department, under court order, finally provided us a previously hidden email, which shows top State Department officials used and were aware of Hillary Clinton’s email account.
Our discovery over the last several months found many more details about the scope of the Clinton email scandal and cover-up:
• John Hackett, former Director of Information Programs and Services (IPS) testified under oath that he had raised concerns that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s staff may have “culled out 30,000” of the secretary’s “personal” emails without following strict National Archives standards. He also revealed that he believed there was interference with the formal FOIA review process related to the classification of Clinton’s Benghazi-related emails.
• Heather Samuelson, Clinton’s White House liaison at the State Department, and later Clinton’s personal lawyer, admitted under oath that she was granted immunity by the Department of Justice in June 2016.
• Justin Cooper, former aide to President Bill Clinton and Clinton Foundation employee who registered the domain name of the unsecure clintonemail.com server that Clinton used while serving as Secretary of State, testified he worked with Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, to create the non-government email system.
• In the interrogatory responses of E.W. (Bill) Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, he stated that the agency found Clinton email records in the Obama White House, specifically, the Executive Office of the President.
• Jacob “Jake” Sullivan, Clinton’s senior advisor and deputy chief of staff when she was secretary of state, testified that both he and Clinton used her unsecure non-government email system to conduct official State Department business.
• Eric Boswell, former assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, testified that Clinton was warned twice against using unsecure BlackBerry’s and personal emails to transmit classified material.
Hillary Clinton said things in those missing emails that she doesn’t want the world to know. Well, we’re curious.
Trump Boots Chinese Communists Out of U.S. Port
As the coup cabal assaults the rule of law in Washington, there has been some important, positive news for our national security. Consider our reclaiming of a major U.S. port from a Chinese Communist company. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the story.
Under a long-term deal sealed by the Obama administration, a Chinese Communist company was set to control the second-busiest container port in the United States. In an unreported Trump administration victory, the Communists are out after a drawn-out national security review forced a unit of China-based COSCO Shipping Holdings Co. (Orient Overseas Container Line—OOCL) to sell the cherished container terminal business, which handles among the largest freight of imports into the U.S.
It all started with a 40-year container terminal lease between the Port of Long Beach in southern California and Hong Kong. The Obama administration proudly signed the agreement in 2012 giving China control of America’s second-largest container port behind the nearby Port of Los Angeles. One of the Trump administration’s first big moves was to get the Communists out of the Port of Long Beach. After a national security review and federal intervention, the Long Beach terminal business, which handles millions of containers annually, is finally being sold to an Australian company called Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. That essentially kills China’s decades-long contract with the Obama administration.
The deal never should have been signed in the first place considering the facility’s size, significance and the national security issues associated with a hostile foreign government controlling it. The southern California port is the premier U.S. gateway for trans-Pacific trade, according to its website, and handles trade valued at more than $194 billion annually. It is one of the few ports that can accommodate the world’s largest vessels and serves 140 shipping lines with connections to 217 seaports around the world. The facility encompasses 3,200 acres with 31 miles of waterfront, 10 piers, 62 berths and 68 post-Panamax gantry cranes. In 2018, the Long Beach port handled more than 8 million container units, achieving the busiest year in its history.
Removing Chinese Communists from this essential port is a tremendous feat and a huge victory for U.S. national security. You’d never know it because the media, consumed with the impeachment debacle, has ignored this important achievement. The only coverage of the finalized transfer is found in Long Beach’s local newspaper, which published a brief article omitting important background information on the Trump administration’s work to take back the terminal from the Communists. The story makes it seem like a regular business transaction in which “a Chinese state-owned company, reached a deal to sell the terminal, one of the busiest in the port, for $1.78 billion.” The piece also quotes the Port of Long Beach’s deputy executive director saying that the transaction process was intricate and involved one of “our most valuable port assets.” Buried at the bottom of the article is a sentence mentioning that the U.S. government, which regulates mergers for antitrust and security reasons, stepped in and required COSCO to sell its rights to the container terminal.
In the last few years China has bought cargo ports throughout the world, including in Latin America, the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Chinese-owned ports are located in Greece, Italy, Spain and other European locations. In sub-Saharan Africa there are dozens of existing or planned port projects funded or operated by China, according to a study that highlights the threat the Chinese investments present to U.S. influence in the region. One troubling analysis points out that “COSCO’s commercial expansion has created leverage for Beijing — leverage that has already resulted in countries that host COSCO ports adopting China’s position on key international issues.”