The University of Pennsylvania didn’t just accept millions upon millions of dollars in Chinese donations shortly after then-Vice President Joe Biden left the White House and it established the “Biden Center” in D.C., though it certainly did that. It didn’t just hold onto classified documents from Biden’s time as Vice President, though it did that too. It also accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from China after Biden was inaugurated in what clearly looks like an attempt to buy influence.
And so Rep. James Comer, the House Oversight Committee chairman, is taking the fight to U Penn and its Biden Center. Doing so on Wednesday, Rep. Comer demanded transparency from the Penn Biden Center regarding the concerns many have with the center, namely its holding onto the classified Biden documents, who had access to those classified documents, and its immense foreign funding.
He did so in the form of a letter to U Penn’s President, Mary Elizabeth Magill, saying (emphasis ours):
The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating President Biden’s possible illegal handling of sensitive, highly classified documents. Recent reports reveal President Biden’s attorneys discovered Obama-Biden Administration documents in an unsecure closet at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement (Penn Biden Center)—a Washington, D.C.-based think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). Additional classified documents were discovered in the President’s Delaware garage and home. President Biden’s pattern of mishandling classified documents is alarming. The Committee is concerned about who had access to these documents given the Biden family’s financial connections to foreign actors and companies. The Committee requests documents and information related to foreign influence at UPenn and the Penn Biden Center.
The Committee has learned UPenn received tens of millions of dollars from anonymous Chinese sources, with a marked uptick in donations when then-former Vice President Biden was announced as leading the Penn Biden Center initiative.UPenn publicized the formation of the Penn Biden Center on February 1, 2017. After that announcement, UPenn’s donations originating from China more than tripled. Not only were these donations made while President Biden explored a potential run for president and launched his campaign, but also as his family and associates pursued lucrative financial projects with partners in China. The American people deserve to know whether the Chinese Communist Party, through Chinese companies, influenced potential Biden Administration policies with large, anonymous donations to UPenn and the Penn Biden Center.
Additionally, the Penn Biden Center appears to have acted as a foreign-sponsored source of income for much of a Biden Administration in-waiting. Between 2017 and 2019, UPenn paid President Biden more than $900,000, and the university employed at least 10 people at the Penn Biden Center who later became senior Biden administration officials—including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl. Financial disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics reveal UPenn paid these Biden associates between $79,000 and $208,000.
Following President Biden’s 2020 election victory, he selected the UPenn president, Amy Gutmann, and the chairman of UPenn’s board of trustees, David Cohen, to be ambassadors of Germany and Canada, respectively. The former managing director of the Penn Biden Center, Dr. Michael Carpenter, now serves as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In the Obama-Biden Administration, Dr. Carpenter had responsibility over Russia and Ukraine while serving at the Department of Defense. The Committee is concerned top UPenn officials offered lucrative, foreign-funded salaries to President Biden’s closest political allies to secure senior posts in a future Biden Administration and foreign actors funded those salaries to influence a future government.
Contrary to what he has told the American people, while Vice President and during his tenure at the Penn Biden Center, President Biden met with his family’s international business partners. Robert Hunter Biden, the President’s son, may have had access to the classified documents found at the President’s Delaware home since he listed it as his home address as recently as 2018 and planned to share office space with an individual affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party. This level of access and opportunity raises questions about who had access to the classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center. Reports indicate these materials included “top-secret files with the ‘sensitive compartmented information’ designation’” that is used “for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources.” It is imperative to understand whether any Biden family members or associates gained access to the classified documents while stored at the Penn Biden Center.
Comer then ended the letter with a list of demands, telling U Penn to provide him with:
1. All documents and communications related to donations originating from China to UPenn and/or the Penn Biden Center from January 20, 2017 to present;
2. A list of all Chinese donors—and the individual amount donated—to UPenn and/or the Penn Biden Center from January 20, 2017 to present;
3. All documents and communications related to soliciting donations for the Penn Biden Center;
4. A list of all employees of the Penn Biden Center—including information about their salary, job description, and dates of employment;
5. A list of all individuals with keycard access to the Penn Biden Center—including but not limited to members of President Biden’s family;
6. A visitor log of all individuals who met with President Biden at the Penn Biden Center; and
7. All documents and communications related to security at the Penn Biden Center.