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Would Biden Commute Hunter’s Sentence? White House Aide Does Not Say.

U.S.Would Biden Commute Hunter’s Sentence? White House Aide Does Not Say.

A White House spokeswoman did not rule out on Wednesday the possibility that President Biden might commute the sentence of his son Hunter Biden, who was convicted on three federal felony counts for illegally purchasing a handgun during his addiction to crack cocaine.

The president declared flatly last week that he would not pardon his son if convicted, but did not address a commutation, which would leave the guilty verdict intact but wipe out some or all of the punishment. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday that she could not say whether the president might consider such an action.

“He was very clear, very upfront, obviously very definitive” in ruling out a pardon in an interview with ABC News, Ms. Jean-Pierre said aboard Air Force One as the president flew to Italy for a meeting of the Group of 7 major industrial democracies. “You have his own words,” she added. “I just don’t have anything beyond that.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre said she had not spoken with the president about the matter yet and so her careful response may only reflect not wanting to go beyond her talking points, not an effort to leave the option open. Mr. Biden has not given any public indication that he would consider commuting his son’s sentence. But without further clarification from the White House, the refusal to rule it out could provoke public debate about the propriety of a president using his clemency powers to spare his son a prison term.

Hunter Biden faces as much as 25 years in prison for lying on a federal form about his drug addiction when he bought a handgun in 2018, but he is unlikely to receive a sentence near that length. First-time offenders who did not use weapons for a violent crime typically receive much lighter sentences; legal analysts said it was possible that the president’s son could receive a year or less behind bars or even probation. No date for sentencing has been set, but the judge said it would typically be in about 120 days. That would put the date in October, even as early voting in the presidential election would be underway..

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