Do feds have FISA evidence on Bidens? Court memos suggest they might, and Congress wants it
Key lawmaker ready to seek FISA surveillance of Patrick Ho, the now-convicted Chinese client of Hunter Biden.
Ever since Hunter Biden was captured in a recording calling his client, Patrick Ho, “the f—ing spy chief of China,” questions have swirled around the Chinese official who headed a U.S.-based think-tank that worked to advance the interests of CEFC China Energy and its now-vanished founder, Ye Jianming.
Court records from Ho’s case reviewed by Just the News show the FBI and Justice Department gathered evidence under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) from around the time when Hunter Biden and his uncle James were dealing with CEFC officials, including Ho.
Joe Biden also met twice with CEFC officials: once as vice president and once as a private citizen, according to statements made by a family friend to the FBI.
“The United States intends to offer into evidence, or otherwise use or disclose in any proceedings in the above-captioned matter, information obtained or derived from electronic surveillance and physical search conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA),” federal prosecutors wrote in a February 2018 filing in the Ho case.
You can you read that memo here.
Now, investigators in President Joe Biden’s impeachment inquiry in Congress want to review that FISA evidence to see if it has any communications between Biden family members and their Chinese business partners.
“This is certainly interesting information. We will pursue every piece of evidence that relates to Hunter Biden and his father. If there are FISA intercepts, it is something we should try to get,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a member of the House Judiciary Committee that is part of the impeachment process and the chairman of its surveillance subcommittee.
Evidence intercepted under FISA is sensitive intelligence, but Congress has succeeded in important investigations to obtain it, including in the post-Sept. 11 inquiry of security failures, and the Russia collusion case, where an intercept of Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn with a Russian ambassador was shown to lawmakers.
“If the government intercepted Patrick Ho’s communications during the time he was working with Hunter Biden and his associates, then those intercepts may contain information Congress needs to conduct its constitutional oversight and impeachment inquiry functions,” said Jason Foster, the now-retired Chief Investigative Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
”When I worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein sought on a bipartisan basis the intercepts of calls between General Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador because the content was needed for our oversight work,” he added. “So such a request from Congress would not be unprecedented.”
The Biden family’s relationship with Ho has not received as much scrutiny as some of the other more colorful foreign characters in their business orbit. But it has taken on increasing importance after congressional investigators received bank records showing the money flowing from CEFC figures in China was flagged by money, laundering experts as possible evidence of a scheme to influence the first family.
Hunter Biden’s own reaction to Ho in a recording on his abandoned laptop only adds to the intrigue.
“I have another New York Times reporter calling about my representation of the, literally, Dr. Patrick Ho — the f—king spy chief of China who started the company that my partner [Ye], who is worth $323 billion, founded and is now missing,” Hunter Biden reportedly said in May 2018, according to a recording obtained from his abandoned laptop.
Hunter Biden’s apparent frustrations came as his lucrative business dealings with CEFC China Energy were collapsing around him. Patrick Ho was arrested in November 2017 in New York on charges of bribery and money laundering and his boss, CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming, disappeared under unknown circumstances in China early in 2018, later suspected to be the result of corruption and financial crimes or simply running afoul of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime. Ho was sentenced to three years in federal prison after his conviction.
During Ho's trial, prosecutors unveiled a “multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for CEFC China Energy Company Limited,” according to the Department of Justice.
It was in that trial that Ho’s work for the China Energy Fund Committee, the non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated with its parent energy company was revealed. Based in Arlington, Virginia, the think-tank held “Special Consultative Status” at the United Nations and was funded directly by Ye Jianming’s energy company. Ho used the NGO as a front to bribe African officials at the U.N. to obtain oil rights and future ventures for CEFC. Specifically mentioned in the trial were Chadian President Idriss Déby and two officials from Uganda, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and President Yoweri Museveni, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Trial documents also show that the prosecutors presented evidence that Patrick Ho participated in efforts to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and facilitate illicit arms deals with Middle Eastern and North African countries, specifically Qatar and Libya, ostensibly through CEFC connections.
"The Iranian agent is looking for a Chinese company acting as a middle man in such [banking] transactions and will pay commission. (details to be presented orally) The Iranian connection has strong urge to establish trading relationship with us in oil and products…” an email cited in the court filings reads, presented by prosecutors as evidence of a scheme to circumvent U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
This scheme took place a little more than a year before Hunter Biden was first introduced to Ye Jianming, Patrick Ho’s boss, through an acquaintance from his daughter’s school and a former U.N. official in the winter of 2015.
Another notable revelation from the court documents is that federal investigators used (FISA) to monitor Ho’s communications in the lead up to his 2017 arrest. According to an analysis of the court documents by the Heritage Foundation Oversight Project, federal investigators seized multiple cell phones, an iPad, and six USB drives from Ho and produced over 30,000 documents of evidence in the trial from both FISA surveillance and seizure.
You can read one of the references to the use of FISA in the document below:
In the months leading up to Patrick Ho’s arrest on November 18, 2017, Hunter Biden was in regular communication with close associates of Ye Jianming. Two examples provided below, show Hunter Biden communicating with Gongwen Dong—a close associate of Ye according to congressional investigators—about plans for the younger Biden’s joint venture with the Chinese and about a letter from Hunter to the CEFC chairman.
One month before Patrick Ho was arrested in the United States, Hunter Biden signed an engagement letter with Ho for Biden to provide legal services to the CEFC Energy Fund Committee’s Deputy Chairman. The agreement was recently released by the House Ways and Means Committee as part of the testimony of IRS Whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler.
“The legal services to be provided by Attorney to Client are as follows: Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer,” the agreement reads.
For his legal services, Hunter Biden was paid $1 million against which Hunter Biden could deduct his attorney’s fees, according to the agreement.
You can read the agreement below:
Additionally, the first phone call that Patrick Ho placed after his arrest by U.S. authorities was to James Biden, according to a report by Yahoo News. Later James Biden told The New York Times that he got a "surprise phone call" from Patrick Ho, and believed that it was intended for his nephew, Hunter Biden. James Biden told the paper that he provided his nephew’s contact information to Ho.
Given the wide array of Hunter Biden’s communications with CEFC officials preceding and following Ho’s arrest and his direct representation of Ho himself, it is likely that electronic communications involving Hunter Biden were picked up as part of the FISA surveillance on the CEFC official. This week, House Republican member Eli Crane of Arizona told Just the News that the House would likely pursue any FISA communications from the Ho investigation to gather evidence for the Biden impeachment inquiry.
Hunter Biden’s relationship with Patrick Ho and CEFC is of particular interest to congressional investigators pursuing an impeachment inquiry because money transfers from CEFC to the younger Biden were flagged for potential money laundering and influence peddling by bank investigators. In September, Just the News reported that banking whistleblowers first began raising alarms about Hunter Biden’s business deals in the spring of 2015 at the earliest while his father was still serving as vice president, flagging what they feared were “suspicious” transactions and “fraudulent" schemes.
Morgan Stanley became so concerned with the suspicious transactions that it filed a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) flagging the CEFC transactions. The SEC never took action.
This especially concerning for House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer because his committee has traced payments from both Hunter and James Biden directly into Joe Biden’s bank accounts from funds sent to the Biden family from CEFC when Joe Biden was still the vice president.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook
- Hunter Biden reportedly said
- arrested in November 2017
- a press release
- according to the U.S. Attorneyâs office
- efforts to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran
- first introduced to Ye Jianming
- an analysis of the court documents
- arrest on November 18, 2017
- a report by Yahoo News
- told the New York Times
- flagged for potential money laundering
- traced payments from both Hunter
- James Biden directly into Joe Biden’s bank accounts