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Joe Biden

Peter Schweizer: Biden, Harris Must ‘Lay Down the Law’ With Family

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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris must “lay down the law” with their family members about using their connections with the White House to profit financially, according to Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute. 

kamala harris rests chin on clasped hands
Vice President Kamala Harris attends a virtual roundtable event with participants from local Black Chambers of Commerce, 2021

“They are not going to pay attention to what a lawyer says, and in both instances, both with the Biden and the Harris families, you have this sort of cultural history of this kind of cashing in,” Schweitzer said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” Monday. 

His comments come after The Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that White House aides have become concerned about Harris’s niece, Meena Harris, who has for some time used her famous aunt’s name and image while marketing videos, children’s books, clothing with phrases the now-vice president has said, designer headphones, and other items. 

“Some things can’t be undone,” a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times. “That being said, the behavior needs to change.”

“Habits are hard to break, and oftentimes, political families feel a certain semblance of entitlements to be able to do these sorts of things,” said Schweizer. “Unless you get the president of the United States or the vice president explicitly calling off their families in public. This behavior is absolutely going to continue.”

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But part of the problem with ethics in Washington, D.C., is that the rules are written by political figures themselves, he added. 

“There are no proper repercussions,” said Schweizer. “When Kamala Harris was attorney general of California, her husband ran a small law firm in Los Angeles. Some of his clients had matters before her office, and there is evidence, some would argue that they got favorable treatment. So this is not a new area for the Harris family. It didn’t impact them negatively before. And unfortunately, I don’t think there is any reason for them to change their behavior right now.”

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Kamala Harris

VIDEO: Kamala Harris Sworn in as First Female Vice President

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Kamala Harris cemented her place in history on Wednesday, becoming the first woman, and the first woman of color, to be sworn in as the vice president of the United States. 

Harris, 56, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, brings with her a litany of firsts: She is the first woman vice president, the first Black vice president and the first South Asian vice president. She was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another historic female first as the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. 

“I’m here today because of the women who came before me,” Harris, a former California senator, tweeted on Wednesday ahead of the inauguration. 

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She chose to be sworn in using two bibles: One previously belonged to Regina Shelton, whom Harris has described as a mother-like figure to herself and her sister Maya, and the second belonged to the late civil rights icon and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, whom Harris has previously credited with inspiring her career.

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Kamala Harris

Vice President-elect Harris to resign her Senate seat Monday

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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat on Monday, two days before she and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated.

Aides to the California Democrat confirmed the timing and said Gov. Gavin Newsom was aware of her decision, clearing the way for him to appoint fellow Democrat Alex Padilla, now California’s secretary of state, to serve the final two years of Harris’ term.

Padilla will be the first Latino senator from California, where about 40% of residents are Hispanic. Newsom announced his choice in December, following intense lobbying for the rare Senate vacancy from the nation’s most populous state.

Harris will give no farewell Senate floor speech. The Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday, the eve of Inauguration Day.

Padilla’s arrival, along with Harris becoming the Senate’s presiding officer when she’s sworn-in as vice president, is part of Democrats’ upcoming Senate majority. But the party still needs Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia to be certified as victors in their Jan. 5 elections and then be sworn in.

Harris will be the first Black woman and first woman of South Asian descent to serve as vice president, but her Senate departure leaves the chamber’s roster without a Black woman. Harris was just the second Black woman senator, winning her California election 17 years after Democrat Carol Moseley Braun finished a single term representing Illinois.

Among many potential successors to Harris, Newsom passed over at least two prominent Black women, U.S. Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee. Bass also was among Biden’s finalists for running mate.

Democrats were in the minority during Harris’ four years on Capitol Hill. Perhaps her biggest mark came as a fierce questioner of judicial nominees and other witnesses as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Harris was viewed as a future presidential candidate almost immediately upon joining the Senate in 2017. She announced her White House bid in January 2019 but dropped out the subsequent December after a lackluster campaign and before the ballots were cast in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Biden, himself a former senator, invited her to join the national ticket in August.

The wins by Ossoff and Warnock in Georgia ensured a 50-50 Senate, positioning Harris as the tie-breaking vote for Democratic control. But Ossoff and Warnock cannot join the chamber until Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certifies the final vote tally. Raffensperger, a Republican, has said he could act as soon as Tuesday, conceivably allowing Padilla, Ossoff and Warnock to join the Senate together as early as that afternoon’s session.

But Republicans will maintain a narrow majority until all three take office and Harris sits in the presiding officer’s chair.

Harris’ early departure from the Senate has multiple precedents.

Biden was the last sitting senator to be elected vice president. He resigned his Delaware post on Jan. 15, 2009, five days before he and Barack Obama were inaugurated. Obama, a senator at the time of his election, had resigned his Illinois seat two months before Biden.
(AP/THEGRIO)

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