The nine-count federal indictment returned against Hunter Biden late Thursday detailed the president’s son’s “four-year scheme” not to pay taxes and his further efforts to evade taxes by filing a false return in 2018. But for all the specifics included in the 56-page indictment, including an extensive elaboration on Hunter Biden’s sordid spending sprees, Special Counsel David Weiss glossed over one of the most significant details uncovered during the multi-year investigation: the $1 million payment Hunter Biden received from Patrick Ho at a time when the Chinese associate was under federal investigation.
Here’s how Weiss described that payment in paragraph 100 of the indictment:
Roughly contemporaneous with the arrest of [Patrick Ho], an individual associated with CEFC, on or about November 2, 2017, [Hudson West III] received a $1,000,000 deposit. At the Defendant’s direction, on or about March 22, 2018, the funds were transferred to Owasco, LLC. The memo line of this transfer indicated it was for ‘[Patrick Ho] Representation.’ To justify the transfer, [Hudson West III] was provided with a letter stating that the funds were a retainer for the Defendant’s representation of [Patrick Ho] who was under criminal investigation in the United States.
The indictment highlighted the $1,000,000 payment from the Chinese communist felon, Ho, merely to establish that Hunter Biden had funds available to pay his outstanding tax burden and instead blew the money on desperate living — and for no other purpose.
But that $1 million payment was far more significant because Hunter Biden’s claim that it was “a retainer” for his representation of Patrick Ho is unbelievable. First, there’s the fact that Hunter Biden’s law firm was Owasco PC and not Owasco LLC, the latter of which was merely a holding company — and if you are going to pay a whopping $1 million for legal representation, you want to pay the law firm supposedly providing those services.
Hunter gave away the game during the plea hearing for his since-scuttled plea agreement in this colloquy with the court:
COURT: All right. In the third paragraph, which is actually the second full paragraph, it says on or about March 22, 2018, you received a million-dollar payment into your Owasco bank account as payment for legal fees for Patrick Ho.
DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.
COURT: Who is that payment received from, was that the law firm?
DEFENDANT: Received from Patrick Ho, Your Honor.
COURT: Mr. Ho himself?
COURT: Were you doing legal work for him separate and apart from the law firm?
DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor. Well —
MR. CLARK: That wasn’t through Boies Schiller, Your Honor, Mr. Biden was engaged as an attorney.
COURT: Right. So that’s why I asked. You were doing work for him —
DEFENDANT: My own law firm, not as counsel.
COURT: So you had your own law firm as well?
DEFENDANT: I think Owasco PC acted as a law firm entity, yeah.
DEFENDANT: I believe that’s the case, but I don’t know that for a fact.
In this exchange, Hunter Biden confirms he was not serving as counsel for Ho, which is obvious since he was in the throes of his addiction in 2018. Hunter Biden suggests instead that “Owasco PC acted as a law firm entity,” although he quickly hedged on that claim, likely to avoid a perjury charge.
But if Owasco PC acted as the law firm entity, why then did Hunter Biden direct the $1 million retainer to be paid to Owasco LLC? (Were there even any other lawyers working at Owasco PC at the time?) And why did Biden report that $1 million payment to Owasco LLC on his personal income tax return in 2018? Why did he spend nearly the entirety of the $1 million retainer over the next six months on “large cash withdrawals, transfers to his personal account, travel, and entertainment,” as U.S. Attorney Weiss maintains he did?
Either Hunter Biden embezzled Ho’s retainer, or the $1 million wasn’t a retainer for legal fees but a payment for something else.
Thursday’s nine-count indictment of the president’s son made no mention of any of these facts, much less charged Hunter Biden for any potential crime related to the $1 million cash payment. This apparent shrug by Special Counsel Weiss at what was, at best, unregistered lobbying by Hunter Biden to help Ho escape criminal prosecution and, at worst, fraud on Hudson West III, embezzlement of Ho’s money, money laundering, or bribery — or some combination of all these possibilities — foretells of two possibilities: Either Weiss intends to close out his career by completely papering over evidence of more serious criminal offenses, or the special counsel intends to seek additional charges.
Weiss may have provided a hint of his plans in the opening paragraph of the indictment when he called Hunter Biden a “lobbyist.” That unnecessary reference suggests prosecutors have renewed their focus on the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
If so, that still will not be enough. Substantial untangling is still required to expose the breadth of the Biden family corruption.
I hold little hope, however, that the now-special counsel intends to zealously pursue the money trail, given that Weiss could have brought last week’s nine-count indictment against Hunter Biden as early as 2019 or 2020 but didn’t. Fortunately, the House oversight committees and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who long ago publicly revealed many of the same facts as those detailed in the tax charges, will continue their pursuit for truth and justice — with or without Weiss.