President Joe Biden has changed the way he gives White House tours to some of his biggest donors, and he did so on advice of counsel.
That, of course, strongly implies that the way the president had been conducting such tours in the past violated the law — a point left-leaning Axios seemed to overlook when it reported on the changes Wednesday.
Unnamed “people familiar with the matter” told Axios for its report that, while Biden continues to host donors at the White House, he has now restricted those visits to certain parts of the president’s residence.
According to the outlet, the visits are designed to calm anxious donors who may doubt the president’s ability to beat rival Donald Trump, 77, should the former president become the official Republican nominee in 2024 as seems increasingly likely.
Axios said Biden had to combat “some apathy” that had built up among big Democrat donors during COVID lockdowns that prevented the president from inviting large numbers of people to the White House during the first half of his term.
So the meals and “exclusive briefings” continue, according to the outlet, but only under the “clear restrictions” placed upon them by Biden’s lawyers.
“It is typical for any president, regardless of party, to host supporters at the White House complex, which is both a working office as well as a personal residence,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told Axios.
“President Biden and his team take all rules concerning the White House and re-elections seriously, and we’re proud of that,” Bates added.
According to Kedric Payne, ethics director at the Campaign Legal Center, only some areas of the executive mansion are permitted to be used for campaign purposes according to the Hatch Act, which covers campaigning by elected officials.
“There are certain rooms in the White House, particularly in the residence that are not covered under the Hatch Act,” Payne said. “The president is allowed to legally meet with and entertain donors at the White House. But you cannot give campaign contributions or solicit for campaign contributions while in the White House.”
The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that Biden, 81, had held a number of meetings with donors “just before the holidays,” in part to address their “concerns about his age and energy.”
The Post cited three unnamed sources whom it said were “familiar with the meetings,” but both the White House and Biden’s presidential campaign declined to comment for the Post’s story.
While designed to calm donors’ fears about Biden’s ability to win in 2024 and then lead the free world for the following four years, the Post said the meetings, which have no set agenda, have also turned into “feedback sessions” for the president.
“Biden has enjoyed the ability to hear perspectives on political and policy matters from people outside of his presidential bubble,” the unnamed sources told the Post.
According to at least one of the Post’s sources, the meetings have served to reassure donors that Biden is still up to the task of running a campaign and running the country.
“It has dispelled anybody who has any doubts about his determination and his energy and his passion,” the source told the Post. “And these people who are wondering if he has lost a step, they leave and are like, ‘That was great.’”
An August poll by The Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago had 77 percent of respondents saying that Biden was “too old to effectively serve another 4-year term as president.”
The same poll found 51 percent of responding adults — still a majority, but obviously a much smaller one — saying the same thing of Trump.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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