On April 14, Joe Biden made a visit to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. His address to the students at the historically black college made headlines not for the words he spoke, nor even the way he said them, but for the fact that when it concluded he swiveled around to shake hands with someone only to find there was no one there. The “phantom handshake” became yet another overanalyzed episode demonstrating the weakened cognitive faculties of Joe Biden.
A less remarked upon aspect of the appearance, however, was how Biden bragged that he was “Professor Biden from Penn” to his host Dr. Robin Coger, the dean of the school of engineering. In responding to this story both his defenders and his critics have obscured the real point; that the professorship was merely window dressing for a much larger corrupt endeavor. I covered the real purpose of Biden’s position at Penn for American Greatness in two articles in the Fall of 2020 about the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Biden’s boastful claim was soon ridiculed by the Republican National Committee, which focused on the well-documented fact that Biden earned close to $1 million in four years of being listed as a professor while not teaching any academic courses. Fact checkers came back and hedged on the topic. To their credit, both Snopes and PolitiFact acknowledged that Biden had never been involved at the university in any pedagogical capacity—as the title of professor usually implies. They also noted that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush held a similar position at Penn as the “Presidential Practice” professor, without mentioning that Bush a) was replacing Biden when the latter began campaigning and b) that Bush apparently did participate in lectures and classes.
At the same time, both fact checks hedged the rest of their analyses to apply the labels “mixture” and “half truth” to the final ruling, because the title “professor” nevertheless counts even if it is an honorarium. It is on these questions that “fact checkers” actually obstruct real reporting, because rather than explore a topic they limit it to an umpire’s call in a baseball game as if the depth of the claim (in this case) is the yes/no verdict of whether Joe Biden was listed as a professor or not.
It is far from that.
The whole function of Biden’s professorship was to be a vehicle for foreign investment into Penn, enrichment of the former vice president, and to provide the veneer of academic standing to several core foreign and domestic policy aides who would follow him into the White House.
When I wrote about the Penn Biden Center (PBC) and the “Biden Institute of Public Policy and Administration” at the University of Delaware the 2020 election campaign was already in full swing. Yet most Americans were completely oblivious to Biden’s roles at these two educational institutions. Prior to those articles the National Legal Policy Center alerted the federal Department of Education that the Penn Biden Center had received tens of millions of dollars in anonymous gifts, including $22 million from China alone.
In addition, the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2019 asked what Biden had done to earn $900,000 from Penn since leaving the White House in 2016. Also that year a Penn student’s op-ed was published in the Inquirer asking how the former vice president had retained his honorarium despite accusations by Nevada politician Lucy Flores of inappropriate sexual touching, given the college’s previous stripping of similar titles from casino magnate Steve Wynn. I warned at the time that the complaint to the Education Department and the personnel list of both the PBC and BIPP were indicators of who would staff the Biden Administration, including strategic Cabinet-level positions, and that there were numerous conflicts of interest arising from gifts received by Penn and the University of Delaware that both institutions were choosing not to make public.
It is now more than 18 months later and Biden is now president, yet just as with the sordid affair of the Hunter Biden laptop, media organizations shy away from the real heart of the matter concerning Professor Biden.
As of 2022, the group leading the Penn Biden Center is limited to a business manager, multimedia specialist, and senior fellow. It is unclear why they would need a multimedia specialist as it has not published a single video for three years, and has no new articles or podcasts since 2020, when it had 12 people listed. So what happened to those people? Here is a full list.
- Antony Blinken
Then: First managing director of the PBC.
Now: US Secretary of State. Blinken was previously Deputy Secretary of State under John Kerry.
- Ariana Berengaut
Then: Director of Programs, Partnerships and Strategic Planning at the PBC
Now: Senior Advisor to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Her career experience is largely limited to speechwriter for the Obama for America 2008 campaign, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and Antony Blinken.
- Michael R. Carpenter
Then: Second managing director of the PBC.
Now: U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe.
A career foreign service officer, Carpenter served under President Obama on the National Security Council as director for Russia and later at the Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, and Conventional Arms Control.
Then: Senior fellow at the PBC.
Now: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy. He had previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and Eurasian Affairs and has held several academic and legal posts with organizations like the Brennan Center for Justice and Georgetown University.
Then: Senior Fellow at the PBC.
Now: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere. Previously served as a senior advisor to Biden as vice president, and a senior advisor for the Western Hemisphere at the State Department.
Then: Senior Fellow
Now: National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere. He had served in the same position from 2011 to 2015, as well as in Erikson’s current position and as a senior advisor to Biden as vice president.
Then: Strategic Consultant
Now: Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy. Under President Obama he served in several positions including Dept. Assistant Sec. of Defense for the Middle East.
Then: Strategic Consultant
Now: Deputy to the U.S. Representative to the UN. He previously was a member of the NSC under Obama and was an Asia policy advisor to Biden having taught at China’s Peking University School of Transnational Law. While others such as Associate Justice Samuel Alito have also lectured there, the school has become increasingly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
Add to these Michael Donilon, former managing director of the Biden Institute who is now a senior advisor in the White House, after having been a political aide and strategist for Biden since 1981. Two other PBC staff, visiting scholars Mahlet Mefsin and Mark Voyger, do not hold official posts. Mefsin does serve on the State Department Policy Planning staff, while Voyger is the senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a hawkish think tank in Washington, D.C.. Samantha Vinograd, the former senior advisor at the Biden Institute is now Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention at the Department of Homeland Security.
If it seems as if the two institutions were a part of the revolving door between government and academia, it’s because they were. It is not unique for former D.C. colleagues to find themselves rubbing elbows in the same professional settings after leaving public service. What should be troubling is that here we had two large and accredited institutions partnering financially with a former vice president and numerous foreign governments to create such a setting in the interim period between different government posts.
Only the most naïve observer would ignore the following facts: Joe Biden as vice president was intricately involved in the Ukraine/Euromaidan conflict; hisson Hunter has been involved in financial intrigues there; since becoming president Biden has overseen the greatest escalation to date in the conflict between Ukraine and the EU on one side and Russia on the other; and basically had his senior Ukraine foreign policy team kept intact and under salary throughout the Trump years.
Who paid them? The same university that paid him a six figure salary for almost no work after accepting tens of millions of dollars from anonymous foreign donors. For this exam from Professor Biden a simple true/false question section will not do, PolitiFact.