FIRST ON FOX: President Biden’s current ambassador to the European Union offered advice to Hunter Biden in 2016 on a Romanian ‘client’ who was on trial for corruption at the time, according to emails reviewed by Fox News Digital.
Mark Gitenstein, who was appointed as U.S. ambassador to the EU by Biden in July 2021 and helped spearhead Biden’s transition team after the 2020 election, is the president’s longtime friend and confidante of several decades who served under him in the Senate for over a decade and was the U.S. ambassador in Romania during the Obama-Biden administration from 2009 to 2012.
While his emails with Hunter date back as early as 2010 on the abandoned laptop when he was the U.S. ambassador in Romania, and Hunter’s calendar shows that he met with Gitenstein at least three time in 2015, their correspondence in 2016 raises questions about his involvement in advising Hunter after he picked up Romanian tycoon Gabriel Popoviciu that spring as a client and what government resources may have been used to assist Hunter.
On June 16, 2016, Gitenstein, who was working in the private sector as a partner at Mayer Brown LLP during the 2016 correspondence, forwarded information to Hunter and his longtime business partner Eric Schwerin with the subject line ‘Romania.’
The email included an Associated Press article saying that Romania’s Constitutional Court was expected to rule on whether to decriminalize the abuse of office. The court wound up ruling against the move and keeping it a criminal offense, but Hunter’s associates briefly weighed whether it could help one of Hunter’s clients.
‘Looks like this will not help your client because it is not retroactive,’ Gitenstein wrote.
‘Please don’t forward,’ he added in a follow-up email, referring to an email chain that included Hans Klemm, then-Ambassador to Romania, Dean Thompson, then-deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Romania, and Debra Hevia, a longtime foreign service officer.
‘Thanks, Mark. We’ll keep this to ourselves,’ Schwerin responded.
Hunter’s business dealings in Romania were highlighted in a report released by the House Oversight and Reform Committee in May. Gabriel ‘Puiu’ Popoviciu, a Romanian tycoon who was facing criminal charges related to corruption and bribery, reportedly hired Hunter in the spring of 2016 to advise him in the case. Popoviciu was eventually convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in August 2017, NBC News reported in 2019.
In a May 2016 email, Hunter said that Gitenstein had provided contacts for officials he felt could help in Popoviciu’s case.
‘Is [sic] now the time to begin to assemble a more high profile team that can speak to the injustice here,’ Hunter wrote to then-Boies Schiller lawyer Michael Gottlieb, Rob Walker, and James Gilliar on May 16, 2016. ‘Who do we have at the firm that can speak with authority about anti-corruption. Mike I was going to reach out to Judge Freeh and if you can think of others of that stature I think now is the time to read them into the situation and see if they are willing to help.’
‘Ambassador Gittenstein [sic] mentioned names like former US Atty Patrick Fitzgerald,’ he added.
It is unclear whether Fitzgerald was pursued or contacted by Hunter or any of his associates. However, Gitenstein’s advice is held in high esteem by the Biden family and transcend multiple Biden family members. During a 2009 visit to Romania, then-VP Biden praised Gitenstein as his ‘best personal friend.’
‘We have raised each other’s children. We have — our wives are close friends. My grandchildren are — consider the Gitenstein’s to be almost relatives. So I can assure you first-hand, this is a man I’ve worked with for 35 years — 30 years, actually — and he has my ear,’ Biden said about Gitenstein. ‘I know you’ve already figured that out, because I know you’ve gone to him, and you know he immediately picks up the phone and calls me. I hope you won’t take advantage of my friendship with the ambassador too badly.’
‘He has a direct line, as I said, to me, and he is very effective,’ Biden added.
In the preceding communications in the email chain with Hunter, Gottlieb expressed frustrations about ‘difficulty getting traction’ with the U.S. Embassy to help Hunter’s client. However, he said he ‘reached out to Klemm and asked him to help us broker the meeting.’
‘If we are going to do this we should do it right – we should put together a persuasive deck with all the procedural and substantive defects in the indictment / case against Gabs, and we should also probably put together the start of what would be a press strategy,’ Gottlieb continued. ‘And we’ll want to line up the big names to bring over. I’d expect we only get one shot to do this.’ Hunter acknowledged that he ‘agreed’ with the strategy.
The day after Hunter’s email, Gottlieb reached out to Hans Klemm, who was serving as the U.S. ambassador to Romania at the time.
‘Our situation has not improved, so I think we need to try to reach out for a meeting with the DNA folks,’ Gottlieb told Klemm, referring to Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate. ‘Is there someone on your team with whom I might speak to try to sort out the right protocol for moving forward? We are most appreciative for any help you’re able to provide.’
Klemm then forwarded the email to Thompson, who is currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to Nepal.
‘Mr. Gottlieb, DNA has asked if this is in reference to the Popoviciu case?’ Thompson asked.
Gottlieb then forwarded Thompson’s email to Hunter, Hunter’s longtime friend and business partner Rob Walker, and James Gilliar, another business associate. Gottlieb’s message was just ‘FYI.’
Gilliar responded with a thumbs up emoji, and Walker said, ‘Let’s talk before responding.’
‘I’m sorry, but I responded immediately when I got that,’ Gottlieb said. ‘There was no other answer to that question but yes.’
That same day, on May 18, 2016, Gilliar emailed Gottlieb, Hunter and Walker, saying the former president of Romania, Traian Basescu, was ‘heavily’ criticizing Klemm for alleged political interference.
‘I understand the PM will meet JB and I hope that AK will get a lot of support,’ he added, referring to then-Romania Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, Vice President Biden and Ambassador Klemm, respectively.
‘By the US emb reaching out, our message is delivered, and I guess the best is to see what happens tomorrow and make your best judgement call with H after,’ he added, referring to either Hunter or Hans Klemm. ‘I think we have achieved all that is possible through your friends and I personally am happy with AK contribution to justice.’
Days later, Vice President Biden met with PM Ciolos and praised his efforts to enact ‘rule of law reforms’ in Romania on May 24, 2016.
According to the White House visitor logs, Gitenstein, who was a frequent visitor at the Obama White House with more than a dozen visits in 2016, visited Biden’s Naval Observatory residence on the day preceding the meeting with Ciolos and on the day of it. It is unclear whom he met with due to that section being empty on the logs. The visitor logs also show that Klemm visited Biden’s West Wing office on the day of the Ciolos meeting.
Early that afternoon, Gottlieb said, ‘Klemm is in DC and has reached out to talk today. He’s calling me this afternoon. I will report back on what he says.’
That evening, he emailed Hunter, Walker and Gilliar, saying he had spoken with Klemm about requesting a meeting with the Romanian DNA.
‘Hans called me to discuss a development that is best relayed over phone,’ Gottlieb wrote. ‘Can we connect either tonight or first thing tomorrow? Bottom line is that we should proceed with requesting the meeting.’
‘Please whats ap [sic] me when u can, we have not much time,’ Gilliar said.
‘At one point we discussed Louis Freeh,’ Gottlieb later added, referring to the former FBI director who was hired by Popoviciu at the recommendation of Hunter, it’s been previously reported. ‘Do we have a good connection to him that would allow us to say he’d come?’
‘If not I’ll send it in for me, DB, and JS,’ he added. It is unclear whose initials are referenced in the email.
A couple of weeks later, on June 10, 2016, Schwerin emailed Hunter saying he had received some ‘marginally useful’ information in a phone call with Gitenstein related to Romania.
Republican members of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee told Fox News Digital that the timeline of events suggests influence peddling by the Bidens.
‘I think it’s pretty telling anytime someone says that something should be discussed over the phone instead of in an email,’ said Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn. ‘We saw this type of pressure regarding Burisma and Shokin being fired. This family has been linked to too many deals. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And there’s a lot of smoke.’
‘With every new email exchange that’s brought to light between Hunter Biden and his associates, one fact remains crystal clear: the moral rot of the Biden family compounds by the day,’ said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. ‘In the case of Gabriel Popoviciu, we still see Hunter Biden’s dirty fingerprints – and the same telltale signs of his influence peddling that serve as his calling card. Known lawbreaker Hunter Biden’s corruption knows no bounds.’
‘Joe Biden very well may be the most corrupt and incompetent president in American history,’ said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. ‘Every week, new revelations come out on how his dealings with foreign governments enriched the entire Biden crime syndicate while selling out Americans.’
‘The Biden family needs to answer for the growing mountain of evidence suggesting they sold out their country to enrich themselves,’ said Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. ‘Joe Biden appears very willing to pressure foreign officials and change American policy positions if his family gets paid off.
‘Furthermore, the DOJ, FBI and other federal entities need to answer for their role in covering up these crimes,’ Mace said. ‘Until the people involved go to prison, the American people will be unable to have faith in our institutions and our democracy.’
‘We knew about China. We knew about Ukraine. Now it’s Romania,’ said Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C. ‘We need to know just how widespread the Biden Mafia Family was willing to go. In this two-tiered system of justice, one thing is clear: it pays to be a Biden. That is, unless you are a four-year-old girl in Arkansas.’
At the time of Hunter’s work for Popoviciu, Vice President Biden was calling on foreign governments to crack down on corruption, including in Romania.
‘Corruption can represent a clear and present danger not only to a nation’s economy, but to its very national security,’ he said during a speech in Romania in 2014.
Biden held a meeting at the White House with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Sept. 28, 2015. The GOP committee announced in May that within five weeks of the White House meeting with Iohannis, Bladon Enterprises Limited, a Cyprus-based company allegedly owned by Popoviciu that he used to conduct business in Romania, started making deposits into Robinson Walker, LLC’s bank account, totaling over $3 million from November 2015 to May 2017.
Less than two weeks after Biden met with Iohannis, Hunter met Gitenstein for coffee at Hunter’s Rosemont Seneca office. In December 2015, about three months later, Rosemont Seneca’s president, Eric Schwerin, emailed a ‘Memo from Gitenstein’ to Hunter. However, it is unclear what it said, because the attached file cannot be accessed. Schwerin and Hunter also met with Gitenstein in February 2016 at his Mayer Brown office.
In one of the transactions from early November 2016, which was highlighted by the House Oversight and Reform Committee report, Robinson Walker, LLC, an LLC that belonged to the same Walker included in many of the Romania emails, received $183,329.29 from Bladon Enterprises Limited. Hunter then received $122,179 from Robinson Walker, LLC.
Multiple Biden family accounts, including those belonging to Hunter, Hallie Biden and an unnamed Biden, received approximately $1.038 million from the Robinson Walker, LLC account after the Bladon Enterprises deposits, and 16 of 17 of those transactions occurred while Biden was vice president, the committee said.
‘It appears from bank records the Bidens were using Robinson Walker, LLC to conceal that the source of these payments was Popoviciu,’ the report continued. ‘The Committee is investigating Hunter Biden and his business associates’ engagement with U.S. government officials on behalf of Popoviciu.’
It is unclear whether Gitenstein was ever paid for providing counsel to Hunter and Schwerin on Popoviciu or what the nature of his involvement was. In 2019, Gitenstein told the New York Times that ‘Both the vice president and I had total confidence in the anti-corruption prosecutors in Romania, and did everything in our power to support them, both during our time in office and after.’
Emails shows that the divorce lawyers for Hunter and his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, were aware of payments from a ‘Romania deal’ and discussed how it should be divided between the two parties, Fox News Digital previously reported.
The White House, Hunter’s lawyer, Gitenstein’s office, Klemm’s employer and Gottlieb did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
Fox News’ Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.