Updated: Jan 26
While the Penn-Biden Center scandal continues to develop, TBORA President John Pudner was recently on The Answer with Bob Frantz, a talk-radio show on Cleveland, Ohio's WHZ. During this extended discussion as a featured guest, Pudner and Frantz delve into many key aspects of the scandal, including the apparent quid-pro-quo between Biden and the University of Pennsylvania, alleged Chinese ties, and how numerous campaign rules, including electioneering, may have been potentially broken. Both also discussed the implications this scandal may have on Biden's potential 2024 re-election campaign.
The following transcript from this interview is presented in its entirety with minor edits:
Biden, classified documents, Clyburn, China, electioneering, clear violation.
John Pudner and Bob Frantz.
Bob Frantz 00:00
How and why is it that, suddenly, classified documents are being turned up and found by President Biden's own lawyers and other team members - obviously first at the Penn-Biden Center, then in his home, then in the garage of his home next to his Corvette. But, we want to focus on the Penn-Biden Center because there's an organization that has been watching and warning for a long time about what they call the pay-to-play scandal, if you will, at the Penn-Biden Center. This organization has been warning about foreign entanglements and foreign actors, whether they're bad actors or not remains to be seen, I suppose. But, doing business at the Penn-Biden Center, and the university sponsoring such things, long before the President's classified documents scandal, John Punder is the President of Take Back Our Republic Action. He said that several of Biden's 2020 presidential campaign senior staff members worked out of that DC think tank, which violated the University of Pennsylvania's tax-exempt status laws against electioneering, among other things, and he's gonna make some sense out of this for us. John, thanks for joining us this morning here in Cleveland, how are you?
John Pudner 01:09
Oh, thanks for having me.
Bob Frantz 01:11
So, there's a lot of strings to this. I suppose we want to try to pull one and get everything to fall out at the same time...that may or may not be possible. Can you try to explain to me why it is that it was a violation of the rules for them to have staffers working out of the Penn-Biden Center? It's got his name on it, first of all. Second of all, how does that tie into foreign influences or foreign actors having access to the building and the facility that we then eventually found classified documents in?
John Pudner 01:45
The two things that are violated here is that a non-profit, which is what a university is, cannot be involved in politics - in trying to elect someone. Now, we all know how liberal most campuses have become, but nonetheless, that's a rule. So, that's a violation, but the quick five-step story here, and this will be brief, but, step one, the President of U-Penn gets $54 million, at least, from the Chinese, so that's foreign donations into this c3. Step two, she pays herself $4 million, that pretty exorbitant for a university president at a public university. Three, she pays Biden, now President Biden, $911,000 out of it for a no-show job. Number four, they opened this Penn-Biden Center, at which classified documents are taken sitting over in a closet, and then those are finally discovered. And then step five, he names Amy Gutmann, U-Penn's president, as ambassador to Germany, the biggest economic rival of China outside of the US. It's unreal, but these are the five steps we started talking about two years ago, and no investigation with the Attorney General in Pennsylvania, clear violations, you also certainly cannot spend foreign money on electioneering.
Bob Frantz 03:14
So, try to explain this to me like I'm a five-year-old. If China is paying all of this money, $54 million, and she takes $4 million of it for herself, and so on and so forth, then she gets appointed in Germany, as you say, which is the biggest rival of China, how does that benefit anybody? Doesn't that put them at loggerheads?
John Pudner 03:35
Oh, it's terrible, and as a matter of fact that, in her testimony after the appointment, she basically had amnesia about the money she raised from China. It's unreal if you go back and watch the video and this is all documented now. There's $54 million at least, but they knew how damaging that would be, so whoever her handlers were for her testimony to get through as ambassador, she basically, if you watch her videos, acted like she didn't have any recollection of the $54 million she collected.
Bob Frantz 04:05
So, John, tie the documents into this in whatever way you can. Like I said, I want to pull each of the strings to see what comes out, but now I want to tie a couple of them together. So, you got these classified documents. First of all, how long is it assumed that they've been there, if you know, and second of all, how does this tie into the electioneering and so forth that you're talking about happening at the Penn-Biden Center, which is against campaign laws?
John Pudner 04:31
Sure, and we do have a piece in National Review today on it, but on these documents, the Penn-Biden center was opening just a little before the end of the vice presidential term, so end of Obama's last term before President Trump had won, the center was just opened then and these documents obviously had to be taken out of the Vice President's office. So, it was taken from them, over to the center, which is basically funded by China indirectly, and they sit in that place. Now, here's the extra violation. We now know that a bunch of the actual senior campaign staff, who were preparing a presidential election for Biden, were working out of this center. He had classified documents, obviously compromising documents about various different countries, apparently some of which are ones who have had dealings with the Biden's, obviously Ukraine and others, and Hunter Biden's made so much money off of it. So, this stuff is sitting there in an office funded by a rival, at very least, of the US, while they basically plan a campaign for president. I mean, they're just so many rules broken here and the double standard on this one is really beyond the pale.
Bob Frantz 05:50
We're talking with John Pudner , He is the President of Take Back Our Republic Action. So John, let's talk about China's involvement in this. Why is China funding all of this? What is their payoff here for their investment in this center and having, I guess, access, if you will, to this Penn-Biden Center? Do they have access by way of literally having some of their representation in the center, doing work, doing negotiations, or how are they involved in terms other than funding?
John Pudner 06:25
Right, so, I don't know that anyone from the Chinese Communist Party went to the center, I'll be clear on that. The whole problem is just...
Bob Frantz 06:35
Well, we didn't talk about foreign actors being involved and actually having access to it, not necessarily Chinese, though, but we do talk about foreign involvement in the center.
John Pudner 06:45
Yes. So, obviously, when another country starts influencing a US election, that's why we have laws against that, particularly with the break that President Trump made was kind of the old Republican, "let's just get along and anything that makes money for multinational corporations, great!" You know, Trump was obviously a radical departure from that, stood up to China, I mean, I think even some of the people who are not fans of President Trump will at least give him credit for that - that we have these ridiculously imbalanced trade agreements with China. So obviously, the last thing China wanted was another four years of President Trump, so the fact that they put money in different ways, and we're very suspicious on these billions of dollars that go through ActBlue on another topic that could be coming from Chinese programmers, that system's set up to basically launder money and use fake American names. So, the point here is just China, at very least, wanted a much more friendly, to them, U.S. President, which they were gonna get, I mean, anyone but Trump would have been more friendly to them, so right there, even if they did nothing else, just helping to pick the President of the United States of America would be a huge coup on their part.
Bob Frantz 07:59
So, John, you... and I'm reading a portion of a national story by Empower Wisconsin. Back in 2021, you guys were sounding the alarm then about China's influence in this and the violations of laws for 501 C3 nonprofit, Penn University and so forth. Why was nobody listening?
John Pudner 08:22
Well, the reason was the person who had to investigate was Shapiro, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, now the Governor. So, you had a very partisan Democrat, and so our appeal, our official letter requesting an investigation, had to go there. Now, things have changed a little now with Republicans taking over the House, obviously they're initiating investigations from Congress, and Congress, of course, has subpoena power on this, but unfortunately, we were on deaf ears. I mean, we had a partisan attorney general, who would not pursue the case, and we just asked for an investigation, but it ended with Shapiro, obviously.
Bob Frantz 09:04
I'm gonna ask you an opinion question now, because to this point, you've been given us the facts as you've uncovered them and know them. What is your opinion as to why these documents are just now being found? We're in 2023, so this is the calendar year, it probably won't be till late spring or summertime that most candidates for 2024 announce their candidacy, not sure exactly when Joe Biden is going to announce his re-election campaign plans if he does want to run again. Do you think that the discovery of these documents suddenly, after two years of you warning about certain things, just now coming about is geared towards stopping him from being president again?
John Pudner 09:44
Well, my bigger concern is that they did not come out until after the midterms, so let me look backwards first, because one of the motivators, and you know, we look at a lot of polling on political campaigns, etc. One motivator out there for voting against Republicans that kind of cut into the red wave was this belief that the files found at Mar-a-Lago showed that Trump and Republicans can't handle classified things, can't be trusted, etc. Well, can you imagine if these things were actually found and became public before the midterms? It would throw out that whole argument. At the very least you'd say, "What are you talking about?" That would have led voters cast a fair election. Now, maybe voters would have said, "Oh, you know, maybe everyone has some of these documents, it's not that big a deal," which would have helped Republicans immensely, because they have drawn such a narrative that Trump is on the wild west on this, or maybe they would have gone further and said, "My gosh, Biden's just so corrupt, we've got to get some balance in the Senate and House." I mean, these things change elections. So, I'm concerned that it took until after the midterms to come out, but you make a very good point. Looking ahead, why are they out now? I mean, are there Democrats who don't want Biden to be the nominee? I mean, this is all speculation, but looking forward, it's a little harder to see, this picture is probably a little murky, but may become clear.
Bob Frantz 11:14
Do you think it's interesting that this issue is coming up right now? I just literally saw a headline this morning, as I was preparing today's show, that James Clyburn, who is widely regarded as a kingmaker in the Democrat Party, he is "all in for President Biden", quote, "I think he's demonstrated, in these two years, he is deserving of reelection, and I do believe he will be reelected, irrespective of who the Republicans put up." Biden still has supporters, and this is a pretty prominent one, do you think that the Democrat Party wants him to run again?
John Pudner 11:48
Well, I think there are plenty who don't, who think there are better options. However, Clyburn is the person in the US most responsible for his election. If you replay the last election, Bernie Sanders was going to be the nominee, until Clyburn put together an incredible organization in South Carolina and other areas, and got Biden over the top. So Clyburn's been all in, he would be the most logical champion, and of course, once you get someone elected president, play a big part in it, you want that person back, but I think Democrats who crunch numbers would certainly rather have someone else without the baggage at this point, but Clyburn is going to be number one cheerleader on this one.
Bob Frantz 12:30
Last one for you. We're talking to John Pudner. If there is a movement within the party to stop him from running again, one would think that Merrick Garland would be playing a role in this, and that he would have ordered the FBI to investigate and search for any other documents to make sure that there are no more caches of documents, rather than just Joe Biden's personal attorney, who's shopping around looking for these things, and we're supposed to trust that everything he found, he turned over, that he didn't pocket certain things to be burned later. The FBI was not involved in any searches, and to this moment, they still haven't been, which indicates that Biden is still in full control here.
John Pudner 13:13
Would seem to, and I certainly don't want to speculate on FBIs actions, there have been some questions last several years, but I think the rank and file certainly, by all accounts, are very good, but yeah, this is interesting, these all have the self-appeal...
Bob Frantz 13:28
The Attorney General is not ordering it. He's not telling Chris Ray, you know, "you need to take over this investigation, we found files now in three different locations with classified markings, you have to be involved here." Instead, they're just going to sit along the roadside and trust that Joe Biden's attorneys are going to turn over everything that needs to be turned over, and now we're done? I mean, I just think it's astounding that the DOJ isn't acting here, unless they are truly all a part of, and that goes from Garland to Ray and every level of it, unless they're all a part of save Joe Biden, he's going to be reelected?
John Pudner 14:05
Yeah, and I think at very least even a PR level, the juxtaposition of that and the agent showing up to Mar-A-Lago, those images are, are going to be there and look a lot more hypocritical now, so whatever the inner workings there, they're certainly painting a bad picture for themselves.
Bob Frantz 14:22
To your knowledge, was President Trump correct when he said, "Look, I had the right as president, as commander in chief, to declassify anything I wanted before I took them,"and, obviously, Joe Biden, as vice president, did not have such power to declassify declassified things, and that's the difference between the two. To your knowledge and understanding, is that accurate?
John Pudner 14:45
I'm not as clear on that. I just have attorneys who know the law, who have come down on both sides of that, who have said either President Trump did or didn't, so at least there's a question there, I wouldn't be the expert on that one. But, obviously, Biden did not have the ability to certainly and the rule that we hit again in a couple of these pieces, is the rule is you don't take anything out of the White House that you didn't bring in. Anything is produced while you're there, anything you have access to, it does not leave, and as we say in the National Review article today, these things are brightly marked. This isn't like, "Oh, I got the wrong vanila folder." They're very clear on what a classified file is, so someone took things that looked like a classified file, and took them to the center, and clearly that's not allowed.
Bob Frantz 15:40
John Pudner is the President of Take Back Our Republic Action. Follow their work at takebackaction.org. John and his team had been warning about what's going on at the Penn-Biden center for two years now and now we find out this is where some of the classified documents are. It's not just a coincidence. Pay attention to these folks, and you're going to follow wherever the facts lead. John, I appreciate you coming on. Keep up the good work, and we'll hopefully check in again.