Warren: Child of Sitting VP Serving on Foreign Company's Board 'A Very Bad Idea'

Massachusetts senator refuses to comment on VP Biden by name

January 14, 2020

Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren called it a "very bad idea" to allow a vice president's child to serve on a foreign company's board, but refused to comment specifically on former vice president Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden.

The New York Times editorial board asked the Massachusetts senator if it should be "against the law for the children of sitting presidents and vice presidents to serve on the boards of foreign companies." Warren not only called the practice "a very bad idea" but suggested her administration's anti-corruption policy would target that kind of behavior.

"I think it's actually a very bad idea, and I would like to see it as part of an anti-corruption … push," Warren said in a December interview that was released Tuesday.

Despite her harsh language, Warren stopped short of attacking Biden directly. The Massachusetts senator interrupted a Times editor who pressed her to criticize the Democratic frontrunner by name, saying she wouldn't "take on Joe Biden and what Joe Biden has done."

Warren's comments come as Biden faces increased scrutiny on the campaign trail for his son Hunter's lucrative appointment to the board of a Ukrainian gas company, as well as his financial ties to other foreign companies. At the time of the appointment, then-vice president Biden oversaw American policy toward Ukraine.

Though Warren's anti-corruption plan released in September singles out fossil fuel companies that "spend freely on influence peddling," the Democrat fumbled when asked if the policy would apply to her own vice president.

"No," Warren answered before backtracking. "I don't—I don't know. I mean, I'd have to go back and look at the details of the plan."

The Warren campaign later clarified that her plan "doesn't prevent any children of a VP from serving on a company's board." Warren sent a different message in her interview with the Times, saying such arrangements could give the "appearance of conflict of interest."

"I think one of the things we have to deal with in public life is the appearance of conflict of interest. You know, that's supposed to be the guiding principle, for example, for judges," Warren said. "It's not whether or not there is a conflict of interest, it's whether or not people in the public could be reasonably concerned that it were, because it's important that you believe that judges are acting independently and not influenced because they're going to get money or someone in their family is going to get money."

While Warren refused to implicate Biden directly in the interview, the Massachusetts senator has previously attacked Biden for his moderate views, accusing him of "repeating Republican talking points" and "running in the wrong primary."

Other prominent Democrats have attacked Biden directly for his son's role with the Ukrainian gas company. Prior to dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, New Jersey senator Cory Booker told CNN in September, "I just don't think children of vice presidents, presidents, during the administration should be out there doing that."

Warren went on to acknowledge the cutthroat nature of a presidential primary in the Times interview, saying "the people you think are going to be your friends turn out not to be your friends." The interview was released Tuesday, just hours after Warren accused Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) of suggesting he did not believe a woman could be elected president in a private meeting.

Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir denied the accusation, calling it "a lie." Sanders has previously referred to Warren as "a very good friend of mine."