Organization Trends

China and the Penn Biden Center: Penn Biden Center

China and the Penn Biden Center (full series)
Penn Biden Center | Hunter’s Role
China Money | Paying Professor Biden

The Penn Biden Center, a think tank named for Joe Biden under the purview of the University of Pennsylvania, was thrust into the national spotlight in recent months—which is likely where it belonged. The nonprofit is only the latest chapter dating back to the president’s time in the Senate in which family members have established avenues for deep-pocketed foreign donors that want to “invest in Joe.” It appears likely to function as a junior varsity version of the Clinton Foundation. But could some of this unravel as a special counsel and a congressional committee investigates?

The discovery of classified documents thrust the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement into the national spotlight in a way that it really should have been before.

One of the early planners of the so-called think tank named for President Joe Biden that is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania compared it to the Clinton Foundation, a known cauldron of cronyism and foreign cash. While it’s at best only a junior varsity version of the Clinton Foundation in terms of volume of money and influence, the nonprofit seems to be an extension the Biden family’s long history of what many consider influence peddling. And it’s also a comfortable spot for Biden confidants.

If influence peddling isn’t provable, it is clear without a congressional investigation that Biden family members—namely his son Hunter and brothers Jim and Frank—have cashed in from those hoping to “invest in Joe.” Just as some of those Biden family deals involved China, some of the Penn Biden Center funding appears to coincide with a boost in China donations to the university.

The Penn Biden Center

Established after Joe Biden’s eight years as vice president under Barack Obama, the Penn Biden Center is located about a mile from the White House at 101 Constitution Ave, NW, with a view of Capitol Hill. It opened on February 8, 2018. The University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League school, paid Biden more than $900,000 from 2017 to 2019 for fairly undefined duties.

Biden also hired some of his longtime loyalist from his career in the Senate and the vice presidency at the center, many of whom now have prominent administration roles. Further, Biden made new friends along the way at the Penn Biden Center, who gained plumb executive branch jobs after Biden became president.

Biden’s lawyers found at least 10 classified documents stored in an unsecure closet at the Penn Biden Center on November 2, 2022, days before the November 8 midterm elections. The administration, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the FBI that made a public spectacle of finding classified information at the home of former President Donald Trump were completely silent about Biden’s stash of classified documents.

In January, CBS News first reported that the Justice Department was reviewing records at the center. Biden’s counsel Richard Sauber confirmed the president’s personal attorneys “were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.” After more classified documents were found in Biden’s private home in Delaware, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Robert Hur to investigate the matter.

The documents in the Penn Biden Center office included U.S. intelligence memos and briefing materials on Iran, with which the Obama administration brokered a multilateral nuclear deal; Ukraine, where Biden’s son Hunter was a board member for controversial energy company Burisma; and on the United Kingdom, CNN first reported.

Biden’s lawyers disclosed in February that the FBI had already searched the Penn Biden Center that November. Emails disclosed in February showed that officials from the National Archives were collecting records from the Penn Biden Center on Election Day 2022. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 requires presidential and vice presidential records—classified and unclassified–to be turned over to the National Archives.

How far Special Counsel Robert Hur will take thes investigation is unknown. It appears that it will likely start and stop with documents, even though the Penn Biden Center has many potential tentacles to probe, which deal with some of the worst aspects of what we know about Biden’s legacy—including Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Hunter’s globetrotting profiteering and links to China.

In the next installment, Joe Biden’s son Hunter helps to hatch the Penn Biden Center.

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the author of Abuse of Power: Inside the Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump (Bombardier Books, 2020). He is a journalist who reports for the Daily Signal,…
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