White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president wants to have the most “ethically vigorous administration in history” following reports his younger brother used the Biden name to boost business.
President Joe Biden is "committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history, and that includes restrictions on how his image can be used. And that is something that he's conveyed publicly and privately as well," Ms Psaki said.
Mr Biden reportedly told his brother Frank Biden “for Christ’s sake, watch yourself,” during the presidential campaign concerning potential business deals.
Despite this admonition, the younger Mr Biden still published an ad for a law firm on inauguration day that promoted his close relationship to the now-President. He also flew to the inauguration on the private jet of a friend and potential business partner.
His tone both serious and humorous, President Biden told his brother "Don’t get sucked into something that would, first of all, hurt you," according to Politico.
The business ventures of his family have long followed Mr Biden's political career, and the scrutiny entered a new phase when he moved into the White House. Less than two weeks into his presidency, the Biden Administration has had to deal with problematic optics as they attempt to restore integrity to the executive branch after four years of a Trump White House often dogged by scandals and leaks.
A federal investigation into the President's son, Hunter Biden, showed that in addition to looking at his taxes as Hunter himself said in a statement, the Department of Justice is also looking into potential money laundering and Hunter Biden's foreign connections, Politico reported in December.
The ad published by Frank Biden was for the Berman Law Group in Boca Raton, Florida, where he is an advisor.
“My brother is a model for how to go about doing this work,” Frank Biden said in the ad that ran in the Daily Business Review, CNBC reported.
The ad continues: “One of his central tenets is that one should never question another man’s or woman’s motives or assign blame to them. That way, you avoid creating a disparity that prevents any kind of coming together...”
Florida Lawyer and Democratic donor John Morgan, who gave $355,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in August, told Politico that President Biden and those surrounding him were acutely aware of the bad optics that could stem from his family using their famous name to further their business fortunes.
“What Frank told me is ‘my brother loves me dearly, but if I lobbied, he would cut my legs from underneath me,” Mr Morgan said.
According to the source who knew of the first conversation between Joe and Frank Biden, the now-President's purpose was to shield his brother from “being hurt and vilified”.
Mr Morgan added: “Frank made it clear to me what the President made clear to him: The day he got elected, the long knives came out for all things Biden. There’s a target on all of them.”
He said that Frank Biden was a “great guy,” and that “I had my jet take him to the inauguration”.
Mr Morgan told Politico that he had talked with Frank Biden about "doing some things inside the law firm", referring to Morgan&Morgan, his own firm which brands itself as “America’s Largest Injury Law Firm", adding that any business between the two would not involve lobbying. There's no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of either Frank Biden or Mr Morgan.
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