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White House isn't ruling out a potential commutation for Hunter Biden after his conviction

U.S. President Joe Biden talks with his son Hunter Biden in New Castle, Del., on June 11, 2024. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo)
U.S. President Joe Biden talks with his son Hunter Biden in New Castle, Del., on June 11, 2024. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo)
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The White House is not ruling out a potential commutation for Hunter Biden, the U.S. president's son who was convicted on three federal gun crimes.

“As we all know, the sentencing hasn't even been scheduled yet,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday on Air Force One as U.S. President Joe Biden travelled to the Group of Seven summit in Italy.

She said she has not spoken to the president about the issue since the verdict was delivered Tuesday.

Biden definitively ruled out pardoning his son during an ABC News interview last week.

“He was very clear, very upfront, obviously very definitive,” Jean-Pierre said of the president's remarks about a potential pardon. But on a commutation, “I just don't have anything beyond that.”

A pardon is an expression of forgiveness of a criminal offence that restores some rights, such as voting, that a person loses upon conviction. Meanwhile, a commutation reduces a sentence but leaves the conviction intact.

The position from the White House is a shift from what it said in September, when Jean-Pierre was asked whether the president would “pardon or commute his son if he's convicted.” The press secretary responded at the time that “I’ve answered this question before. It was asked of me not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago. And I was very clear, and I said no.”

Hunter Biden was convicted of lying on a mandatory gun purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs, and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

The three counts carry up to 25 years in prison. But whether the president’s son actually serves any time behind bars will be up to U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika. The judge, who was nominated to the bench by former Republican president Donald Trump, didn’t immediately set a date for sentencing.

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Associated Press writer Seung Min Kim in Washington contributed to this report.

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