We now know more about why a key witness in the House GOP’s sordid tale of an investigation has supposedly gone “missing.” He was on the lam after having been indicted way back in November — even before Republicans won the House majority — for allegedly acting as an unregistered Chinese agent and arms trafficker to the Middle East and Africa.
The man is Gal Luft, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen and D.C. energy policy think-tanker who made a stunning claim in February: that his arrest in Cyprus on a U.S. extradition warrant was not, in fact, what it seemed.
Rather, Luft claimed, he was the victim of an international conspiracy that reached to the highest levels of American power, a whistleblower being persecuted at the direction of the vindictive Biden family.
“DOJ is trying to bury me to protect Joe,Jim&Hunter Biden,” he wrote on Twitter. “Shall I name names?”
In spite of the persecution claim being transparently self-serving, Luft did have something real to offer: He worked with CEFC, a Chinese energy firm which, the Washington Post reported last year, transferred $4.8 million to Hunter Biden and his uncle James Biden for consulting work on projects that never came to fruition.
The right pounced.
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer (R-KY) told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo in March that he was trying to get in touch with Luft, calling him the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The New York Post ran a series of stories about Luft, written by opinion contributor Miranda Devine. After Luft escaped Cypriot custody while out on bail, making him a fugitive, Devine scored an interview in which Luft complained that “the chances of me getting a fair trial in Washington are virtually zero” and that he was “charged for a thought crime.”
Since the indictment, some prominent believers in what Luft had to offer GOP investigations into the Bidens doubled down.
“The timing is always coincidental according to the Democrats and the Department of Justice,” Comer told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday evening. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who said that Luft could be a key witness, said on Sunday that he “does not trust the Department of Justice.”
The facts, as laid out in and around the indictment, tell a far more familiar story of D.C. grubbiness.
Per the docket, unsealed on Tuesday, the indictment came down on Nov. 1, 2022. That’s eight months before the DOJ made it public, and three months before Luft himself first loudly alleged that he was the victim of a Biden political persecution.
And per the indictment, Luft’s assertion that he’s been charged with “thought crimes” appears far-fetched.
He faces eight separate counts, including two charges of making false statements to federal officials, one for conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and five counts relating to separate schemes which allegedly involved Luft trying to trade in sanctioned Iranian oil and broker deals for a Chinese firm to supply, among other things, “strike UAVs” to Kenya and anti-tank missile launchers to Libya.
The foreign agent scheme, prosecutors say, had less to do with the Bidens than it did with the Trump administration’s entrance to power in 2016.
Luft, while co-director for a Maryland energy security think tank, allegedly agreed in 2015 to receive annual payments of $350,000 from CEFC, the Chinese energy firm that would go on to ink contracts with Hunter Biden. The payments were made, prosecutors say, as part of an agreement with Luft to advance China’s interests in the U.S.
Luft was, the indictment alleges, to do three things in exchange for the payments: arrange an “international meeting” in a major U.S. city on “energy security issues,” secure CEFC’s chair an honorary position at a separate energy group that Luft advised, and help make a member of that energy group a “senior advisor” to CEFC.
The arrangement allegedly continued through the 2016 election, when Luft began to develop a relationship with a person whose description in the indictment matches that of former CIA Director James Woolsey.
At one point, prosecutors cite a quote from a December 2016 conference in D.C. about China’s Belt and Road project, in which Woolsey allegedly said that “We want to joyfully participate with China in international trade operations and economic growth.” The same quote appears attributed to Woolsey in a China Daily article about the meeting.
When Woolsey was named in a September 2016 article as a Trump campaign adviser on national security policies, Luft allegedly sent a celebratory email to an unnamed associate.
Luft, prosecutors say, tried to use his relationship with Woolsey — and the prospect that Woolsey might be asked to take a top position in the Trump administration — as part of his agreement to help China. That included an alleged plan for Luft’s think tank to make a monthly payment of $6,000 to Woolsey from November 2016 to October 2017, in exchange for which Woolsey would allegedly publish pro-China articles. In one case alleged by prosecutors, Luft purportedly edited an introductory email that Woolsey planned to send to another Trump adviser post-election.
Woolsey did not end up with a position in the Trump administration, but was reportedly under consideration for intelligence posts before abruptly resigning from the transition team in January 2017.
Per the indictment, Luft was also involved in a byzantine series of efforts to broker arms deals between a Chinese company and the governments of Libya, Kenya, and the UAE. In one alleged dealing involving Iranian oil, Luft allegedly told an unnamed associate to call the product “Brazilian.”
In the days before the indictment was released, the New York Post published a 14-minute video of Luft, in which he claimed to be both innocent and “patient zero of the Biden family investigation” and rehashed some of the same claims about the arrangement through which CEFC paid Hunter and James Biden.
Luft in the video also described a 2019 meeting he had in Brussels with DOJ representatives, saying that prosecutors and the FBI refused to listen to his claims. Per the indictment, Luft faces two false statements charges from that meeting.
Luft, who Esquire once described in a 2007 profile as “the most hated man in Riyadh, Detroit, and Des Moines,” did succeed in getting a round of media attention from the video release. Frank Gaffney, the renowned anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and head of the Center for Security Policy, called Luft a “longtime friend” and compared his plight to that of David against Goliath.
Sen. Johnson told Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that Luft was “arrested in Cyprus to silence him” and appeared to endorse his flight from law enforcement, saying that he “needs to be granted immunity to testify and tell his story.”
The next day, the indictment was unsealed.
Comer, the House GOP lead investigator, said in a Tuesday statement that Luft “allegedly provided information about the Bidens and CEFC” to the FBI. He added in the statement that his panel would “obtain these records at the FBI,” but said nothing about scheduling an interview with Luft.