The “missing” witness long-touted by Republicans in Congress as the missing link to their probe into alleged Biden family corruption was accused of being an unregistered foreign agent for China and an international arms trafficker while violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and lying to investigators, among a laundry list of other federal charges unsealed Monday.
Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Gal Luft was originally charged on Nov. 1, 2022 and arrested in February, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
Luft had already skipped out on his bail while in Cyprus awaiting extradition to the U.S. for the case in March—though he alleges that the sprawling case against him represents political persecution and retaliation by the Biden administration against a potential witness.
The House Oversight Committee has for months touted a secret “informant” who could provide evidence of an alleged “quid pro quo” deal for foreign aid between an Obama-era Biden and an unnamed country—though details of the arrangement remain murky and unverified at best.
Those claims partially unraveled when Rep. James Comer (R-KY) in May held a much-hyped press conference in which he promised to expose the preliminary findings of four months’ worth of scrutiny into the Biden family’s business dealings—while failing to air any real evidence of corruption. He then offered a partial excuse for the failure: their star witness had up and disappeared.
The situation was memorialized in a much-publicized Fox News interview, in which a credulous Maria Bartiromo appeared shocked by the revelations.
“Well, unfortunately, we can’t track down the informant,” the Kentucky representative said. “We’re hopeful that the informant is still there. The whistleblower knows the informant. The whistleblower is very credible.”
“We’re hopeful that we can find the informant,” Comer added. “Remember, these informants are kind of in the spy business, so they don’t make a habit of being seen a lot or being high-profile or anything like that.”
Luft then came forward days later in an interview with New York Post opinion columnist Miranda Devine, alleging that he was hiding out in an undisclosed location after being arrested on charges including international arms dealing, as well as a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, among other charges.
“The chances of me getting a fair trial in Washington are virtually zero,” he told Devine as the reason he skipped out on his bail. “I had to do what I had to do.”
Despite the allegations, Comer doubled down on Friday, tweeting that Luft is a “very credible witness on Biden family corruption,” who “provided incriminating evidence to six officials from the FBI and the DOJ in a meeting in Brussels in March 2019.”
“We have no reason to believe the FBI & DOJ acted on this info,” he continued.
On Sunday, Republican Senator Ron Johnson (WI) added Luft should be granted immunity.
“Now, he’s literally fleeing for his life right now,” Johnson told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. “He’s on the run. He’s an important witness. He needs to be granted immunity to be able to testify and tell his story.”
Monday’s unsealed charges add some clarity to the laundry list of alleged crimes Luft is accused of—including a 2016 scheme to “recruit and pay” a White House adviser to support China-friendly policies without first filing as a foreign agent.
According to a release from the Justice Department, Luft is also accused of brokering arms deals with Chinese businesses to sell their wares in places such as the United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Libya—all without a valid U.S. license. Federal authorities allege that they have proof Luft hawked anti-tank launchers, grenade launchers, mortar rounds, aerial bombs, rockets and even drones.
To make matters worse, Justice Department prosecutors say he lied to them during interviews about the alleged scheme.
“During a voluntary interview with U.S. law enforcement in which he was asked questions about his involvement in arms trafficking, LUFT made multiple false statements, including that he had not sought to engage in or profit from arms deals,” the department’s statement reads.
Luft is also accused of brokering deals for Iranian oil—which he falsely labeled “Brazilian”—in violation of U.S. sanctions.
In all, Luft faces 36 counts that carry a maximum of 100 years in prison, according to the Justice Department.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the date on which Luft was originally charged.