White House does not rule out Hunter Biden commutation

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“He and the first lady love their son and they support their son, I just don’t have anything… beyond that,” Ms Jean-Pierre told a group of journalists aboard Air Force One.

She added she would not divulge any information about the time Mr Biden spent with his family Tuesday evening, when the president unexpectedly travelled to Wilmington, Delaware following the jury’s guilty verdict in his son’s case.

US presidents have the power to commute sentences for defendants convicted of federal offences. They can also choose to outright pardon such convictions, vacating them entirely.

Commuting a sentence would leave the conviction intact, but replace a sentence given in court with a lesser one.

Presidents do not have the power of commutation or pardon in state-level cases.

Ms Jean-Pierre also read out a previous statement from Mr Biden about the conviction.

“I am the President, but I am also a Dad,” the statement said. “Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today.”

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.”

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to two charges related to lying about his drug use on a federal background check, and one for possessing a gun while addicted to or using drugs.

The 54-year-old claimed he was in recovery when he purchased the gun in October 2018.

In total, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though legal experts say a sentence that long is very unlikely.

Flying to Italy – where the president is set to attend the G7 summit this week – aboard Air Force One, Ms Jean-Pierre also pointed to an interview with ABC News last week in which Mr Biden said he would not pardon Hunter Biden if he were convicted in the gun case.

“He was asked about a pardon,” Ms Jean-Pierre said told reporters. “He was asked about the trial specifically, he answered it very clearly.”

Constitutional scholars disagree on whether a president’s pardon power includes himself, though Donald Trump – if he won the presidency in November – could be the first to try if convicted in either of the two federal criminal cases he faces.

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