Karine Jean-Pierre dodges question about Biden possibly commuting son Hunter’s sentence

News & Politics

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to clarify whether President Joe Biden would commute the sentence of his son Hunter should he be sentenced to serve jail time.

On Wednesday, Biden, Jean-Pierre, a gaggle of reporters, and others were aboard Air Force One, flying to Italy for the G7 summit. Just 24 hours or so earlier, first son Hunter Biden was found guilty on three felony counts connected with a firearm purchase in October 2018. Though he faces up to 25 years in prison, he isn’t likely to receive the maximum sentence since this is his first conviction.

‘It was asked of me not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago. And I was very clear, and I said no.’

During a mid-air press briefing, Jean-Pierre was asked two questions about a possible commutation of Hunter Biden’s pending sentence.

In her answers, Jean-Pierre noted that Hunter’s sentencing hearing has not even been scheduled yet. She also reiterated the deep, abiding love the president and first lady have for Hunter. Finally, she alluded to Biden’s pledge not to issue Hunter a pardon.

“He was asked about a pardon. He was asked about the trial, specifically, and he answered it very clearly, very forthright,” she said.

“He’s been very clear about this.”

However, she was eventually forced to admit that she simply didn’t have an answer about commutation. “He and the first lady love their son and they support their son, I just don’t have anything … beyond that,” she claimed.

As multiple outlets have noted, Jean-Pierre’s answers about commutation have changed over the last nine months or so. As far back as September 2023, she was asked whether Biden would “pardon or commute his son if he’s convicted” (emphasis added). She answered decisively in the negative.

“I’ve answered this question before,” she replied at the time. “It was asked of me not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago. And I was very clear, and I said no.”

A pardon expunges a conviction from a person’s record and releases him or her from any sentence. A commutation either lessens or cancels an ongoing sentence but leaves the conviction in place. Presidents have the power to pardon or commute only federal convictions.

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