Commuting Hunter's Sentence Could Be Option for Biden

White House press secretary doesn't rule it out
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2024 8:04 AM CDT
White House Doesn't Rule Out Commuting Hunter's Sentence
President Biden hugs his son Hunter Biden at Delaware Air National Guard Base, Tuesday, June 11, 2024.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Biden has said he won't pardon his son Hunter, who was convicted of three gun-related felonies earlier this week. But commutation of his sentence, when it is handed down, could be a different story. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre didn't rule out commutation when she spoke to reporters Wednesday. She said Biden was "very clear, very upfront, obviously very definitive" when he ruled out a pardon but she couldn't comment on whether he would consider commutation, which would let the conviction stand but cancel or lessen the punishment, the New York Times reports.

Jean-Pierre said she hadn't spoken to the president about the matter since the Tuesday verdict. "As we all know, the sentencing hasn't even been scheduled yet," she said, per ABC News. A sentencing hearing is expected in around four months and while the maximum sentence the president's son could face is 25 years, analysts expect a sentence of a year or two in prison at most. Commutation would be highly controversial and the Times notes that Jean-Pierre's "careful response may only reflect not wanting to go beyond her talking points, not an effort to leave the option open."

Other members of presidents' extended families have received pardons, including Bill Clinton's brother Roger and Charles Kushner, father of Donald Trump's son-in-law, but both men had already completed their sentences when they received pardons, the Times reports. CNN commentator David Urban, a former Trump campaign adviser, suggested Wednesday that, if re-elected, the former president should pledge to pardon Hunter Biden if he commits to a "program of sobriety," the Hill reports. "It would be a magnanimous offer on his part, shows humanity, and really flip the tables on the Democrats," Urban said. (More Hunter Biden trial stories.)

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