Sunday, January 15, 2023

Watchdog Calls on Biden Center to Disclose Foreign Donations as DOJ Investigates Classified Docs


Watchdog Calls on Biden Center to Disclose Foreign Donations as DOJ Investigates Classified Docs

Classified docs revive concerns of national security risks at UPenn Biden Center

January 11, 2023

After classified documents were found stored in a closet at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center, a watchdog group is calling for the university to disclose whether any of the foreign donations it was given were channeled into the think tank.

The calls from the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) come amid reports that the Department of Justice is investigating how Biden’s classified documents ended up at the institute and could revive congressional probes into national security risks posed by the Penn Biden Center, the policy institute launched by Biden and the University of Pennsylvania in 2017.

Foreign donations to the University of Pennsylvania more than tripled in the two years after the think tank opened, with most of the $61 million coming from China, the Washington Free Beacon reported in 2021. Republican lawmakers and foreign policy officials have warned about the Chinese government’s influence-buying operations on college campuses, while the Department of Justice has been cracking down on Chinese espionage at American universities.

Tom Anderson, director of the Public Integrity Project at the NLPC, said UPenn has shown an "unwillingness to disclose what appears to be millions of dollars of foreign donations" raised following the creation of the Penn Biden Center, which may have been channeled into Biden’s think tank.

The funding "has potentially opened the door to national security issues related to the University providing undocumented access to what was then future high-level officials within the Biden administration and State Department," Anderson told the Free Beacon.

Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, dismissed the notion of any link between the Penn Biden Center and the foreign donations to UPenn, which surged after the think tank launched. "One hundred percent of the budget for the Penn Biden Center comes from university funds," he told the Free Beacon on Tuesday.

The Penn Biden Center "has never solicited or received any gifts from any Chinese or other foreign entity. In fact, the University has never solicited any gifts for the Center." MacCarthy said the think tank has only unsolicited earmarked gifts from two donors, "which combined total $1,100."

The NLPC says foreign donations to UPenn raise national security concerns, noting that the Penn Biden Center served as a national-security-council-in-waiting for the Biden administration and employed numerous Biden aides who now hold top foreign policy and defense positions under his presidency.

One of these officials is Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who served as the Penn Biden Center's director from 2017 to 2019 and received more than $79,000 in salary, according to his financial-disclosure records. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter, and U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations Jeffrey Prescott also worked at the Penn Biden Center. Biden appointed UPenn’s longtime former president, Amy Gutmann, as ambassador to Germany last year.

News of the Department of Justice's probe into Biden’s classified records could reignite scrutiny of UPenn on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have promised to investigate foreign influence in the Biden administration. The classified material from Biden’s vice presidency was reportedly found in a closet and includes records related to Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom, according to CNN.

House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. James Comer previously raised questions about UPenn’s foreign funding, sending letters to the university requesting records and information about the donations in 2020 and 2021. On Tuesday, Comer criticized Biden for "inappropriately maintain[ing] classified documents in an insecure setting for several years."

Republican Rep. James Comer asks Janet Yellen AGAIN to hand over any suspicious international bank transactions associated with Hunter Biden and accuses Treasury of running 'cover' for the first family

  • Kentucky Rep. Comer is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee 
  • He pledged to open an investigation into President Joe Biden's Treasury Department and suggested it was running 'cover for the Biden family'
  • He accused the administration of 'providing a false store' to the media when it publicly reaffirmed support for the Treasury's transparency
  • Wednesday's letter was obtained by
  • It follows a prior request for information that Comer sent to the Treasury in May
  • He set a deadline for compliance by June 8 and claims Treasury officials rejected GOP lawmakers on June 13 because no Democrats had signed on 

Republican Rep. James Comer, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, is again demanding that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen turn over documents relating to suspicious international bank transactions linked to President Joe Biden's family.

In a letter sent to Yellen on Wednesday and obtained by, Comer accused her department of running 'cover for the Biden family and its associates' by failing to fulfill Oversight Committee Republicans' request without bipartisan support.

The minority party lawmakers claim the Treasury denied their petition for suspicious financial activity linked to Hunter Biden and the president's brother James Biden 'unless Democrats join the request.'

The Treasury did not meet GOP lawmakers' June 8 deadline. According to Comer's letter, department officials refused to provide the notices in a June 13 phone call.

He suggested that requiring support on both sides of the aisle for such a request is a change in executive branch policy.

He wrote to Yellen that Republicans on his committee 'are investigating whether this change in longstanding policy is motivated by efforts to shield Hunter Biden and potentially President Biden from scrutiny.' 

Comer wrote a similar memo in May referencing a CBS News report detailing suspicions raised over financial activity of the president's son and brother James Biden.

That letter read, 'According to recent media reports, more than 150 of Hunter Biden and the Biden network’s international business transactions have generated suspicious activity reports by U.S. banks for further review by the Treasury Department to determine if there is illegal activity or a threat to national security.'

In Tuesday's follow-up Comer cited a Wall Street Journal report where the Biden administration expressed confidence in the Treasury Department's disclosure process.

Kentucky Rep. James Comer sent Yellen a letter on Tuesday demanding more information on Hunter Biden's international financial activity

Kentucky Rep. James Comer sent Yellen a letter on Tuesday demanding more information on Hunter Biden's international financial activity

'It is troubling that the Biden Administration is willing to provide a false story to the media to create the appearance of transparency while continuing to thwart congressional oversight,' the Kentucky Republican wrote.

'Treasury’s actions call for investigation and raise new questions about the degree to which the Biden Administration is using the federal government to provide cover for the Biden family and its associates.'

He vowed that Oversight Republicans would 'follow the money trail.' Party leaders have suggested on multiple occasions they would open a formal investigation into the president's son and his business dealings if they win the Congressional majority in November.

Biden's press secretary, Karine Jean Pierre, was asked on Tuesday about a voicemail first reported in that suggests the president may have known more about his son's business than he let on.

House Republicans claim to have sent nearly 100 requests for information to Biden about his son during his presidential campaign and since taking office

House Republicans claim to have sent nearly 100 requests for information to Biden about his son during his presidential campaign and since taking office

'Hey pal, it’s Dad. It’s 8:15 on Wednesday night. If you get a chance just give me a call. Nothing urgent. I just wanted to talk to you. I thought the article released online, it’s going to be printed tomorrow in the Times, was good. I think you’re clear. And anyway if you get a chance, give me a call, I love you,' the president said according to the recording. 

It was obtained from the hard drive of a laptop that apparently belonged to Hunter Biden that he allegedly abandoned in a Delaware repair shop. 

Biden critics claim the voicemail is proof that the president lied when he said he never discussed his son's business deals.

'What the president said stands, so, if that's what the president said, that is what stands,' Jean Pierre said during her regular press briefing.

'From this podium, I'm not going to talk about alleged materials from the laptop.'

'I refer you to his son's representative,' she said amid Fox News reporter Peter Doocy's protests for more information. 

Rep. Comer joined House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Judiciary ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan over the weekend in an op-ed detailing their party's efforts to investigate Hunter Biden.

They claim to have uncovered evidence that the president's relatives profited off his years-long career in Washington 'despite Democrats’ refusal to cooperate' with those efforts' in an op-ed published in the New York Post

'Congressional Republicans’ investigations to date have found Biden family members used their connections with Joe to enrich themselves through expectations of access and promises about what a Biden administration might do,' the three GOP leaders wrote.

'We’ve made almost 100 requests for information relating to Biden family schemes. Many, including every request made to the Biden administration, have been ignored.'

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