Philip Lenczycki on September 7, 2022
- President Joe Biden’s new green energy adviser, John Podesta, has cooperated with Tung Chee-hwa since at least 2009, an individual a congressional commission identified as being “clearly associated” with Chinese government influence operations, the Daily Caller News Foundation found.
- Podesta sits on the “U.S.-China 2022 Steering Committee” for Tung’s China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), according to the group’s website.
- The newly-minted adviser served as White House chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, former President Barack Obama’s counselor and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chair.
President Joe Biden’s new senior adviser has maintained ties with a Chinese government influence operative for over 10 years, the Daily Caller News Foundation found.
Since at least 2009, Democratic powerbroker John Podesta, former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, has cooperated with Tung Chee-hwa and his Chinese Communist Party-backed organization, the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), according to CUSEF’s annual reports. Podesta sits on CUSEF’s “U.S.-China 2022 Steering Committee” and has written at least three articles for its website since 2011 — the same year in which he appeared on the front cover of the group’s annual report.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz characterized CUSEF as a “pseudo-philanthropic foundation” in 2018, writing that “CUSEF’s ties to the CCP are an issue of grave concern.” CUSEF is registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as a Chinese foreign principal controlled by Tung, the vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — an organization which directs China’s influence operations, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Including Tung, eight of CUSEF’s core leaders have served in the CPPCC, while Chinese military personnel, members of the CCP and former government officials are also listed among the group’s advisers, according to its website.
Tung is “clearly associated” with the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The UFWD engages in propaganda, espionage and physical violence, according to the State Department.
At least a dozen photographs of Podesta are included throughout four of CUSEF’s annual reports between 2009 and 2016. Many of the photographs depict Podesta on CUSEF-sponsored trips to China meeting with Chinese government officials and Tung.
President Biden appointed Podesta as a senior adviser for green energy Friday, following the White House’s announcement that Biden’s chief climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, would resign effective mid-September. Podesta will manage Biden’s expansive climate programs, including overseeing the distribution of roughly $370 billion in green energy investments.
After serving as White House chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, Podesta founded the Center for American Progress (CAP) in 2003, according to Roll Call. The New York Times described CAP as “a virtual external policy arm of the Obama administration” in December 2013, just a month before Podesta became counselor to former President Barack Obama in January 2014.
December 2013 was also when Podesta and Tung published a joint-research paper entitled “Toward A New Model of Major Power Relations,” which the pair co-authored with Wang Jisi — a CCP member and senior fellow at CUSEF. The report included a climate policy recommendation, which urged the U.S. and China to build an international consensus to “phase down” greenhouse gases.
Leaked emails published by Wikileaks in 2016 provide a glimpse into Podesta’s personal relationship with Tung. The thousands of leaked emails revealed that Podesta and CUSEF’s founder communicated frequently between February 2015 and March 2016. There are over 50 such communications, including one in which Podesta’s staff suggested Tung call Podesta on his home phone line.
Between 2015 and 2017, CUSEF paid the Podesta Group lobbying firm $890,000 to lobby on its behalf, according to Open Secrets. John Podesta reportedly severed ties with the lobbying group in 1993, but his brother, Tony Podesta, remained until the group dissolved in October 2017, Politico reported.
Several of Biden’s other nominees have also been criticized for their ties to alleged Chinese influence groups, including William Burns, whom Biden appointed as CIA Director in February 2021.
Burns served as the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and came under fire from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio regarding the think tank’s ties to CUSEF during his February 2021 CIA confirmation hearing, according to Senate records. Although Burns swore under oath that he’d severed all ties with CUSEF, the DCNF recently revealed that Carnegie employed at least 20 undisclosed CCP members and other individuals tied to the Chinese government during Burns’ presidency.
Biden’s September 2021 appointment of Reta Jo Lewis to the Export-Import Bank also concerned Rubio, with the Florida senator claiming Lewis had worked for a group which allegedly served as a “conduit” for the CCP. Despite her alleged ties, Lewis was confirmed in Feb. 2022.
Biden’s April 2022 nomination of Dominic Ng to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council also drew criticism. Ng served in an organization General Secretary Xi Jinping called “friendly” to the Chinese government, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Podesta, CAP, the White House and CUSEF did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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