Allegations that biased FBI agents shielded first son Hunter Biden from criminal investigations are “deeply troubling,” FBI Director Christopher Wray was forced to admit Thursday under grilling from Republican senators — before cutting the Q&A short by claiming he needed to catch a flight.
The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noted that Wray wasn’t flying commercial and pleaded in vain for the FBI chief to reschedule the departure of his government jet.
But before leaving, Wray was pressed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) about whistleblower claims against Tim Thibault, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s DC field office, and FBI supervisory intelligence analyst Brian Auten.
Kennedy confronts Wray with allegations against the two FBI workers that Grassley revealed last month.
“Isn’t it true that Mr. Thibault — Agent Thibault, excuse me — and [Auten] covered up derogatory information about Mr. Hunter Biden while working for the FBI?” Kennedy asked Wray point-blank Thursday.
“I want to be very careful not to interfere with ongoing personnel matters,” Wray replied. “I should say that when I read the letter that describes the kinds of things that you’re talking about, I found it deeply troubling.”
Kennedy also cited to Wray a variety of Thibault’s social media barbs against Republicans, which resembled the anti-GOP attacks by FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page during the bureau’s investigation of possible Russian collusion with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Grassley’s July letter to Wray said Auten and Thibault allegedly were involved in “a scheme” to “undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation.”
Auten “opened an assessment which was used by an FBI Headquarters (‘FBI HQ’) team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease,” Grassley wrote.
“[V]erified and verifiable derogatory information on Hunter Biden was falsely labeled as disinformation,” Grassley wrote, citing unnamed whistleblowers.
Thibault, meanwhile, allegedly tried to kill off a valid avenue of investigation of possible Hunter Biden criminality.
“In October 2020, an avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting was ordered closed at the direction of ASAC Thibault… [when] all of the reporting was either verified or verifiable via criminal search warrants,” Grassley wrote.
“Thibault allegedly ordered the matter closed without providing a valid reason as required by FBI guidelines…. [and] subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future.”
Kennedy on Thursday cited some of Thibault’s social media messages and asked the FBI director, “Do you know how this looks to the American people?”
“I will tell you that what you’re describing is not representative of the FBI … where I see patriots working their tails off with tremendous integrity and objectivity,” Wray said.
Kennedy asked Wray to confirm whether or not Thibault was involved in the ongoing investigation of Hunter Biden for possible tax fraud, unregistered foreign lobbying and money laundering — but Wray wouldn’t directly answer.
“Did he or does he work on the FBI investigation of Mr. Hunter Biden?” Kennedy asked.
“The investigation that you’re referring to is going to — and I need to be a little bit careful because we’re talking about an ongoing investigation — is being run out of our Baltimore field office, working with the Delaware US attorney who’s a holdover from the prior administration,” Wray tried to deflect.
Kennedy followed up, “So I’m confused, Chris, with your answer. Did he work, or does he work on the Hunter Biden investigation?”
Wray again avoided a direct answer, saying, “As I said, that the Hunter Biden investigation is being run out of the Baltimore field office.”
Thibault’s alleged social media activity included a retweet of a Lincoln Project message that called Donald Trump a “psychologically broken, embittered and deeply unhappy man” and tweet saying that he wanted to “give Kentucky to the Russian Federation.”
Hunter Biden recently cut the IRS a check for about $2 million in an acknowledgment that he failed to pay taxes on a windfall of foreign income. The funds reportedly were provided by Hollywood lawyer Kevin Morris, but it’s unclear what strings are attached and the repayment doesn’t prevent prosecution.
The first son’s overseas dealings gained significant attention this year when the Washington Post and New York Times in March belatedly verified documents from a former Hunter Biden laptop that were first reported by The Post in October 2020.
Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s business deals generally is murky and they continue to present conflicts of interest for the president.
Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop indicate that his father, then vice president, attended a 2015 DC dinner with a group of his son’s associates from Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. A photo depicts Joe Biden posing with the Kazakhstani group and one day after the dinner, Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive at Ukrainian gas company Burisma, emailed the then-second son to thank him for the opportunity to meet his father. Hunter Biden earned a reported $1 million per year to serve on Burisma’s board while his dad led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina, an alleged attendee of the 2015 dinner and the widow of a former mayor of Moscow, has not faced US sanctions this year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite Biden sanctioning many other members of Russia’s elite.
In China, Joe Biden allegedly was involved with his son’s dealings with CEFC China Energy, which the Washington Post reported paid Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018. Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski says that he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about the deal and a May 13, 2017, email says that the “big guy” would get a 10 percent equity stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC. Bobulinski alleges that the president was the “big guy.”
Also in China, Hunter Biden cofounded an investment firm called BHR Partners in 2013 less than two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two. Hunter introduced Joe Biden to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in the lobby of a hotel in China’s capital. The fund is controlled in part by state-owned entities. Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said less than a week after President Biden’s November summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the first son divested his 10% stake in BHR Partners, but Hunter Biden and the White House provided no further details and online business records indicate that Hunter Biden still owns the 10% stake.