FIRST ON FOX: Ethics experts tell Fox News Digital that President Biden is flirting with crossing ethical lines in talking about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into his son, Hunter Biden.
Fox News Digital reached out to several ethics experts to weigh in on the president proclaiming his son’s innocence as Hunter faces down potential DOJ charges.
Cully Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital that like ‘most fathers, President Biden is going to defend his son.’
‘However, as the President of the United States, Biden knows (or should know) that it is entirely inappropriate for him to weigh in on an ongoing federal investigation of a suspect because as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, and the person assigned the Pardon Power under the Constitution, he should not pre-judge any federal case until the case has come to its natural conclusion,’ Stimson said.
Mike Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), told Fox News Digital there ‘is a reason that officials, including the President in past occasions, normally refuse to comment on ongoing investigations.’
‘Especially in the case of the President, whom DOJ officials are ultimately responsible to, any statement commenting on a case or investigation could likely sway those working on the case and could tend to manipulate the outcome,’ Chamberlain warned.
‘While this is clearly irresponsible, it may be worse,’ he continued. ‘Given that the DOJ is already under fire after reports that a whistleblower has alleged political interference in career officials’ recommendations to prosecute Hunter Biden, the President’s statement could be interpreted by some as akin to potential obstruction of justice.’
Former Obama administration ethics chief Walter Shaub told Fox News Digital that Biden’s weighing in on his son’s potential criminal charges ‘highlight’ the dangers of the president or his White House personnel talking to the DOJ or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about Hunter’s case.
Shaub said he hopes Biden and his administration keep their distance from Hunter’s investigation but believes it’s likely okay for a presidential father to exercise caution while proclaiming his son’s innocence as to not appear as attempting to influence the decision.
‘I think these remarks highlight exactly why neither President Biden or anyone from the White House should talk to anyone at the IRS or Justice Department about the investigation of his son,’ Shaub said. ‘I hope they continue to maintain a strict firewall.’
‘As long as he stays away from doing that, it’s probably ok for a father to say he believes his son is innocent,’ he continued. ‘But he should exercise caution to avoid appearing to try to influence a potential jury pool or undermine the credibility of the investigation, which may mean refraining from going further than answering an interviewer’s questions, for instance, by raising the topic in a speech.’
The Justice Department is reportedly nearing a decision to charge Hunter Biden on federal tax-and-gun-related charges.
The first son has been under federal investigation since 2018 for two misdemeanor tax filing charges, a felony tax evasion charge, and a false statement charge over a gun purchase.
President Biden was asked how the potential looming charges would impact his presidency in an interview last Friday with MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle.
‘First of all, my son’s done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him and, it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him,’ Biden explained.