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Justice says incoming assistant AG McQuaid got 'ethics training,' when asked about Hunter Biden case

Justice responded with a letter about procedures on conflicts of interest but did not appear to respond directly about McQuaid.

Hunter Biden with father Joe Biden
Hunter Biden with father Joe Biden
Getty Images
Updated: February 22, 2021 - 8:51pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Top GOP senators are asking the Justice Department whether new acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid will be involved in the federal investigation into Hunter Biden's tax records and if McQuaid's previous job at a law firm connected to the president's son poses a conflict of interest.

In a Feb. 3 letter to the Justice Department, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson pointed out McQuaid was employed at Latham & Watkins until Jan. 20 and say he worked with fellow firm attorney Christopher Clark, whom Hunter Biden reportedly hired to work on his federal criminal case a month before father Joe Biden's inauguration as U.S. president. 

"It is unclear what role, if any, Mr. McQuaid has in the Hunter Biden case or whether he has any access to the case," wrote Grassley, of Iowa, and Johnson, of Wisconsin. "As a general matter, all government employees must avoid situations that create even the appearance of impropriety and impartiality so as to not affect the public."

They also cite a section of the department's ethics guide that states: "No employee shall participate in a criminal investigation if he has a personal or political relationship" with any anybody or group substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution or any person or group that he knows "has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution."

They also point out that President Biden recently issued an executive order on ethics that imposes similar requirements including a requiring for prosecutors to inform their supervisors of a possible conflict of interest. The senators also ask seven questions specific to their concerns.

The Justice Department responded Friday, two days after the senators' Jan. 17 deadline, in a brief statement that says McQuaid has received ethics and professional responsibility training. The letter also states McQuaid signed an ethics pledge required in Biden's executive order.

However, the letter does not appear to answer all of Grassley and Johnson's questions including whether McQuaid has been recused specifically from the Biden case and/or whether has access to the case files.

"The Acting Assistant Attorney general is screened and recused from matters in which he has a financial interest or a personal business relationship, including matters involving his former law firm," the letter reads.

The Justice Department as of early Monday evening did not respond to requests from Just the News to clarify McQuaid's disposition in the case. Grassley's office said the senator and relevant staffers would be unavailable to respond until later because they were involved in confirmation hearings. And Johnson's office could not be reached. 

Biden has acknowledged being under investigation by federal prosecutors in Delaware over the tax matter.

The New York Post reports the probe is related to his business ventures in Ukraine and China.

Clark, a partner at Latham & Watkins, worked together with McQuaid on multiple cases and shared clients, according to a report by Axios.