President Joe Biden’s commitment to ethics will be put to the test in how his Justice Department handles the connection one of its top officials shares with Hunter Biden’s lawyer, a government ethics expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Chris Clark, a partner at the law firm Latham & Watkins, is assisting Hunter Biden with the federal criminal investigation into his foreign business dealings. Clark had worked closely at the law firm with Nicholas McQuaid until the latter’s departure from the firm on Jan. 20 to lead the Justice Department criminal division, which is reportedly involved with the Hunter Biden investigation.
There’s no evidence suggesting that McQuaid had any involvement with the Hunter Biden matter while working at Latham & Watkins, but he and Clark were jointly representing at least one client, not Hunter Biden, before he left the firm, according to Axios.
“This is a great test of the administration’s commitment to ethics, both actual and appearances of conflicts of interest,” said Scott Amey, the General Counsel of the Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
“While recusal isn’t required under the law, Mr. McQuaid should step away from any involvement in the Hunter Biden investigation and allow others at the agency to handle it,” Amey told the DCNF. “That advice holds true for President Biden and all White House staff as well — step aside and allow the investigation to proceed without any involvement or interference.”
Hunter Biden revealed in December that he had been notified that federal prosecutors were investigating his “tax affairs.” Investigators are looking into whether Hunter Biden violated money laundering laws in regards to his foreign business dealings in China and elsewhere, according to multiple reports.
Government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman of the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen told the DCNF that McQuaid would be expected to recuse himself from taking any official actions that could impact Hunter Biden’s case if he had any involvement prior to joining the Justice Department.
“However, at this point it does not appear that McQuaid was involved in Hunter Biden’s case, but only that he had a nonrelevant working relationship with a lawyer who is handling Hunter’s case,” Holman said. “This is too distant a relationship to raise significant ethics concerns, though it is worth monitoring to see if there is more to the story.”
A Justice Department spokesperson told Axios on Tuesday that “all department employees are governed by the department’s ethics rules, including rules concerning recusal,” but the spokesperson did not address McQuaid’s connections with Hunter Biden’s attorney.