A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer in Queens was arrested and charged on Monday with acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without notifying the U.S. government as required by law. According to the unsealed criminal complaint, the allegations against Biamadajie Angwang stem from his making “materially false, fictitious and fraudulent” statements on his SF-86C Questionnaire for National Security Positions – the form required for government positions that deal with sensitive state information. The charges against Angwang are serious (carrying a maximum penalty of up to 55 years in prison), but his underlying conduct drew immediate comparisons to the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—who provided incomplete or incorrect information on his SF-86C.
Angwang, 33, allegedly told the government in May 2019 that he had not had any contact with members of a foreign government since he last filled out an SF-86 questionnaire. The government says the defendant, in fact, had “extensive contacts with government officials from the [PRC],” as well as continuing contact with “family members in the People’s Republic of China, some of whom were affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).”
“This is the definition of an insider threat,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office William F. Sweeney. “As alleged, Angwang operated on behalf of a foreign government; lied to gain his clearance, and used his position as an NYPD police officer to aid the Chinese government’s subversive and illegal attempts to recruit intelligence sources.”
Before Kushner was put in charge of everything from Middle East peace to resupplying the Strategic National Stockpile for health emergencies, Ivanka Trump’s husband was denied top-secret security clearance. President Donald Trump ordered then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to overrule the concerns of government agencies. When testifying before Congress in 2018, Charles Phalen, the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau in the White House, said he had “never seen that level of mistakes” when discussing the questionnaire Kushner submitted.
Multiple people who were said to be familiar with Kushner’s background check told The New York Times that his security clearance was held up “in part over questions from the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. about his foreign and business contacts, including those related to Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.” On his SF-86, Kushner also reportedly failed to disclose contacts with foreign officials—like being present at the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, and meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the head of a state-owned Russian bank.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when these discrepancies were seen as a potential source of legal problems for Kushner during Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and any links to the Trump campaign.
Washington, D.C.-based national security attorney Bradley P. Moss told Law&Crime that the charges brought against Angwang were a “stark reminder” that Kushner received special treatment.
“In case there was any doubt, the charges brought today are a stark reminder that Jared Kushner was treated with nepotism gloves when he repeatedly failed to properly report information on his SF86,” Moss said.
[Image via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]
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