Hunter Biden hired a lawyer to help in his federal criminal defense a month before his father became president — and on Inauguration Day, one of that lawyer’s close colleagues was tapped to temporarily lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, Fox News reported.
The moves put the new Department of Justice official, Nicholas McQuaid, a partner at the firm Latham & Watkins, at the top of a powerful arm of the justice system as his former colleague, Christopher Clark, represents Hunter Biden in a reported federal probe.
Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" reported Friday that on Jan. 21, Latham & Watkins filed a motion to withdraw McQuaid from a case Clark had been working on. McQuaid was named as the acting head of the criminal division Jan. 20.
In December, Hunter Biden was exploring additional legal representation in Delaware, Law.com reported. Clark is based out of Latham’s New York office, according to the firm’s website.
McQuaid's role leading the criminal division is temporary. President Joe Biden hasn’t yet announced a permanent nominee , who would have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Federal ethics laws and DOJ regulations would bar McQuaid from working on matters relating to the Biden investigation without a sign-off from Justice ethics officials, according to Axios.
DOJ guidelines, as well as an ethics pledge imposed by Biden within days of taking office, bar federal officials from participating in matters involving former employers unless they receive a waiver of relevant laws and regulations.
“Potential conflicts between lawyers entering government and their former clients or firms are quite common,” Kedric Payne, the senior director for ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, told Axios.
"This situation is one of the many initial tests of Biden's ethics pledge, which looks great on paper, but time will tell if it is effective in practice," he added. "Enforcement is essential."
A DOJ spokesperson told Axios, that "While not speaking to any particular matter, all department employees are governed by the department's ethics rules, including rules concerning recusal."
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