Joe Biden takes on Trump administration with plan to 'restore' government ethics
Posted October 14, 2019 7:44 a.m. EDT
CNN — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a plan Monday for how his administration would prioritize ethics should he be elected president in 2020, pledging to "ensure that no future president can ever again abuse the office for personal gain."
In a rebuke of the Trump administration, Biden pledges to "restore" ethics in government, "rein in executive branch financial conflicts of interest," and "return integrity" to decision making in his administration.
The ethics plan comes a day after the former vice president's son, Hunter Biden, announced that he will resign at the end of the month from his board role in the management company of a private equity fund backed by Chinese state-owned entities. Hunter Biden has come under scrutiny from President Donald Trump and Republicans for his position on the board, as well as his previous ties to a Ukrainian energy company, which Trump wanted Ukraine's government to investigate -- a move that largely prompted a House impeachment inquiry into the President's conduct. Trump has denied doing anything improper.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
On Sunday, Hunter Biden also pledged to not work for any foreign-owned companies or serve on their boards should his father be elected President, and his father told reporters that his family and associates would not work for foreign companies if he is elected president, saying he would have "build on the squeaky clean, transparent environment" in the White House reminiscent of former President Barack Obama's administration.
According to the plan, if elected, the former vice president would issue an executive order prohibiting members of his administration or White House staff from getting involved in investigations by the Justice Department, saying that those who do would be fired. He would also work to pass laws that say the department can investigate "any allegation of improper partisan influence on DOJ investigations and prosecutions."
If elected, Biden would also work to create a "Commission on Federal Ethics," which the plan says would "oversee and enforce federal anti-corruption and ethics laws." The panel would also have investigative authority and the power to enforce subpoenas and refer some matters to the DOJ for criminal investigation.
Additionally, Biden would introduce a constitutional amendment "to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections." The amendment, according to the plan, would overturn the Supreme Court's blockbuster Citizens United ruling nearly a decade ago and require federal candidates "to solely fund their campaigns with public dollars."
The ethics plan also says Biden would work to make sure candidates for federal offices are required to release tax returns "dating back 10 years prior to the date they declared candidacy for their first federal office."
In the plan, he takes aim at Trump, who hasn't released his tax returns, saying the President "has enlisted DOJ in his effort to keep his tax returns from seeing the light of day."