Hunter Biden is facing legal trouble on multiple fronts, but it’s been an unorthodox journey to get here. Attorney General Merrick Garland will answer questions this week about the investigation into President Joe Biden’s son, where the spotlight will be ultimately on how much Joe knew about his son’s business dealings. In this series, Wayward Son, the Washington Examiner will investigate how we got here. Part One examined how Hunter Biden’s failure to register as a foreign agent made him vulnerable to further prosecution. Part Two, below, shows how Hunter Biden’s foreign affairs extended beyond Ukraine.
While much of the attention surrounding Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings has focused on lucrative relationships in Ukraine and China, the president’s son also earned significant money from a lesser-known contract in Romania.
Hunter Biden’s work for a Romanian real estate mogul facing corruption charges was similar to what he did for the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. Some of that work appeared to overlap, starting in 2015.
Burisma’s founder was at the time facing a corruption investigation from Ukrainian authorities, and the company enlisted the help of Hunter Biden and his associates in its efforts to free Burisma from legal entanglements.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden was pushing anti-corruption reforms in Romania while his son worked his U.S. government contacts on behalf of his Romanian client, just as he’d pocketed money from his Ukrainian client while his father pushed anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine.
And Hunter Biden never disclosed his work as a lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in Romania or Ukraine despite meeting with U.S. officials to advocate both for his Romanian client and for Burisma.
Gabriel Popoviciu, the Romanian real estate tycoon, enlisted Hunter Biden’s help in 2015 as Popoviciu faced the prospect of jail time and the loss of his business assets over a corruption case.
Bank records show that Hunter Biden and his business associates received at least $3 million from Popoviciu between November 2015 and May 2017.
Hunter Biden worked on the Popoviciu matter with attorneys from Boies Schiller Flexner, the high-profile law firm where he spent years on the payroll as counsel.
On Sept. 28, 2015, Joe Biden met with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House. That same day, Hunter Biden emailed a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner to ask if he had time to speak about his Romanian client.
Hunter Biden soon sought to meet with the then-U.S. ambassador to Romania on behalf of that Romanian client in November 2015.
He told an associate at Boies Schiller, who appeared to have a personal friendship with the newly confirmed ambassador, that he wanted to schedule the dinner “just to inform him of the project we are working on.”
That associate later said the ambassador, Hans Klemm, was “delighted” to meet with Hunter Biden in Bucharest. Hunter Biden appeared to make plans to fly to Romania for just one night so he could meet with Klemm.
Later that month, Hunter Biden’s assistant reminded him to work on a handwritten letter to Klemm.
Hunter Biden and the Boies Schiller associate began working on materials to present to Klemm and the Romanian ambassador to the United States, with whom Hunter Biden also met repeatedly at the time. They discussed highlighting the “pipeline of unresolved cases” in Romania, likely to make the argument that Popoviciu’s didn’t warrant special attention.
By May 2016, Hunter Biden’s associates were scrambling to get an audience with the Romanian DNA, the country’s anti-corruption agency, so they could present their case on behalf of Popoviciu. They planned to argue that authorities should not pursue an investigation against Popoviciu, and the group discussed how to prepare a “persuasive” presentation that highlighted “all the procedural and substantive defects in the indictment/case” against Popoviciu.
The Romanian court was preparing to hand down a ruling on the Romanian businessman’s case.
Klemm attempted to broker the meeting between Hunter Biden’s group and the Romanian officials at the request of Boies Schiller, emails show.
While it is unclear whether a meeting took place at that time, it is notable that a State Department official offered help on such a sensitive matter after coordinating so closely with Hunter Biden and his associates.
Emails suggest Freeh was eager to be involved in the case, and he quickly went to work for Popoviciu through his global consulting firm.
In July 2016, just one month after Popoviciu was convicted in Romania on corruption charges, Freeh wrote in an email to Hunter Biden that he had involved the FBI in the lobbying campaign for Popoviciu, requesting meetings about the case with Romanian officials through the FBI and raising the issue to an unnamed “senior FBIHQ official,” who Freeh told Hunter Biden was “interested in meeting our client.”
Years later, Freeh would involve former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the lobbying effort for Popoviciu.
By March 2017, Joe Biden was freshly out of office, and Freeh told Hunter Biden that he wanted to propose involving Joe Biden in some “profitable matters” at his global consulting firm. Hunter Biden passed on his father’s cellphone number to Freeh, but it’s unclear if anything ever came of the proposal.
At the time, according to bank records obtained earlier this year by the House Oversight Committee, Hunter Biden was still on the payroll of their mutual client, Popoviciu.
Hunter Biden was not the only member of the family who collected payments that appeared to come from Popoviciu.
The bank records suggest that Popoviciu’s real estate company paid an entity held by Rob Walker, a Hunter Biden business associate, and then Walker’s entity paid money to Hunter Biden, his late brother’s widow Hallie Biden, and an “unknown Biden account,” according to the Oversight Committee.
Popoviciu appears to have ultimately prevailed in his yearslong legal battle, avoiding extradition to Romania from the United Kingdom earlier this year.