One of the most prominent House Republican investigators promised he wouldn’t spend his time wading into the fever swamps of the “unless we have proof” conspiracy theory.
But just days after taking a powerful new position and with no significant evidence, House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) reinforces a wild conspiracy theory: that Joe Biden’s former executive assistant Kathy Chung , actually a foreign agent who works for the Chinese Communist Party.
The hand-in-hand effort of top House Republicans and the right-wing media has fueled a relatively banal secret documents scandal with unfounded, xenophobic fantasies.
The allegations and innuendos stem from secret documents from Biden’s vice presidency that the FBI and Biden lawyers recently restored from his former DC office and home in Delaware. Federal investigators are now investigating the situation — as they are classified documents recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. (In the latter case, Trump spent months resist authorities’ efforts to recover the documents.)
NBC news reported earlier this month that federal investigators had interviewed Chung, who now to work in the Pentagon as deputy director of protocol, as part of their review of the classified documents recovered. A few days later, The Washington Post reported that Chung had expressed concern that she may have been inadvertently involved in moving or storing classified documents, which were eventually recovered from the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, DC. Both news organizations cited unnamed sources.
Chung’s attorney, Bill Taylor, confirmed to HuffPost that she spoke with federal investigators and was involved in packing Biden’s vice presidential office in January 2017, the boxes of which later arrived at the Biden Center. Chung didn’t know the boxes contained classified material, Taylor said.
There is no public evidence at all that Chung, who was born in South Korea, has any relationship with China or its government. But that hasn’t stopped Comer from playing along with conspiracy theories from right-wing media hosts.
On Newsmax Tuesdayhost Jenn Pellegrino asked Comer, “Do you believe that Chung’s connection to Hunter Biden, possibly the Chinese Communist Party, and her role in handing over these classified documents is something the House Oversight Committee should investigate?”
“We’re looking into that,” Comer replied. “It is very disturbing and very distressing to see how much ties the Biden family has to the CCP.”
Although he did not specifically name Chung, Comer later referred to the process of moving the classified documents: “If you start tracing, you see that there are people who had very suspicious connections to some of our opponents who were involved in the move. . method.”
Comer did not respond to HuffPost’s questions about what evidence, if any, he has to support his cable news insinuations about Chung, nor did representatives from Fox News or Newsmax.
Chung’s lawyer destroyed the line of attack. “It’s uninformed and absurd,” Taylor said. “It’s particularly odious in a partisan atmosphere like this, where people feel no qualms about suggesting someone is a traitor without any evidence, and knowing frankly that it’s not true.”
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer (R-Ky.), has traced a large number of issues back to Hunter Biden.
Comer repeated the talking points in an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo Wednesday and attempted to link the story to the president’s son, Hunter Biden, saying “there is most definitely a connection” between the documents and the younger Biden’s business dealings in China.
Bartiromo said Chung “oversaw the packing of this,” referring to the president’s documents. “Do we know if she reports this to the CCP?” she asked.
“We are investigating that. We are investigating at least three different people that Hunter Biden was directly involved with who have very close ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” Comer said.
The back and forth between Comer and Bartiromo has been going on for days. On January 22, Bariromo proposed an interview with Comer by saying “we don’t know if [Chung] eventually reported to the Chinese Communist Party.” Bartiromo asked Comer about “the ties between Joe Biden and communist China” and whether this has dictated Biden’s treatment of the country.
“Most Americans would be shocked to see how many connections the Biden family has with people directly affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party,” Comer said.
It’s especially odious in a partisan atmosphere like this, where people suggest without hesitation that someone is a traitor without any evidence, and knowing frankly that it’s not true.Bill Taylor, attorney for Kathy Chung
Conspiracy theories about the former Biden aide have been brewing on the right-wing web for months, spawning several email exchanges with Chung reportedly taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
In one exchange, Chung emailed Hunter Biden about taking a job in his father’s vice presidential office. She had previously worked for former Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), a longtime staffer and friend of Joe Biden who eventually recommended her for the job, the Post reported for the first time. Taylor confirmed these details to HuffPost, noting that Chung and Biden’s son met when they both worked at the Commerce Department.
“Call if/when you want me to tell Dad you’re interested,” Hunter Biden Reportedly Chung told about the job in a 2012 email and asked in another, “Would you like me to see when you can meet VP?”
In a 2015 email, Chung sent invitations to a lunch from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-hosted by Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping. In February 2017, a month after Joe Biden left the White House, Hunter Biden invited Chung to work with him; she reportedly replied that she was looking to stay with Joe Biden. Chung never worked for Hunter Biden, Taylor said.
Referring to these emails, Newsmax’s Pellegrino exclaimed in her interview with Comer, “Hunter’s laptop continues to give us a lot!”
None of the emails between Chung and Hunter Biden offer any sign that Chung is or was a covert Chinese agent rather than a regular mid-level political aide. And yet that is the story currently being blessed by the top Republican on the Oversight Committee. Comer is a famous master to tie everything back to Hunter Biden.
“Hunter Biden was in charge of picking the people to pack the boxes and transport the boxes from point A to point B,” he told Bartiromo on Wednesday. (“That’s not true,” Taylor told HuffPost.)
On Thursday, Comer recited the same line to Sean Hannity“We learn during our investigation that Hunter played a role in determining who would actually be in charge of getting the documents from the Vice President’s office to the first delivery point for those documents.”
Separately in that interview, Hannity referred to a reported 2015 email from Chung to Hunter Biden, sent the day after Hunter’s brother Beau’s funeral. In it, Chung lists phone numbers of high-profile people, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and several senators and members of Congress.
Conservatives have seized an email from Kathy Chung to Hunter Biden after his brother Beau’s funeral, containing contact information for prominent figures.
This email in particular has been popular on the right-wing web. Trump pardon recipient Michael Flynn gushed a few days before the 2020 presidential election: “Any foreign power would love to have this information!!!”
And G News, a China-focused Web site linked to Steve Bannon, published an article the same day with the headline, without evidence, “Hunter Biden sold the Clintons’ phone numbers to the CCP.” The article refers to Bannon-associated Chinese internet personality Lu De, whose real name is Wang Dinggang. The New York Times and NBC News have reported that Wang is the origin of several Hunter Biden rumors.
The G News report claimed that “the purpose of sending this email to Hunter is so that he can forward the phone book to the CCP.” (“Crazy and absurd,” Taylor said.)
In his interview with Hannity, Comer dove down the rabbit hole.
Hunter Biden, he said, would “try to prove his worth to these people in these other countries who paid him these huge sums of money,” in part by “showing them that he had cell numbers for powerful individuals.”
As the Fox News exit music swelled, Comer rushed to finish his point: “Influence Peddling! That’s what we’re investigating, and more and more evidence is emerging every day to prove that this family was involved and that Joe Biden was an integral part of it.