Biden: No Pardon for Hunter If He's Convicted on Gun Charges

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

What else would Joe Biden say when asked about pardoning his son if Hunter Biden is convicted of lying about his drug use and addiction when buying a gun? 

"Yes, I'm going to exempt my son from the policy my administration is enforcing." 

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That might be what Joe Biden would like to do, but even in his addled state he (and his advisors) know what a campaign-killer that would be. He's got no choice but to abide by the jury's verdict and hope they acquit.  

Biden sat down with ABC News anchor David Muir at the Normandy American Cemetery on the 80th anniversary of D-Day, and he touched on the legal troubles of both his son and Donald Trump.

Asked if he would accept the outcome of his son’s trial, which is currently ongoing in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said, “yes.” He followed up with another “yes” when asked if he would rule out a pardon for his son, should he be found guilty. The younger Biden is facing federal gun charges. 

Biden was also asked about Trump’s recent conviction in his hush money trial in Manhattan. The former president was convicted on more than 30 felony counts related to falsifying business records.

“He got a fair trial. The jury spoke,” Biden said on Thursday, accusing his presumptive November opponent of trying to “undermine” the justice system with his accusations of a rigged trial.

Hunter's legal problems may be eating Biden alive as a father, but let's be honest. They're also hugely beneficial to one of his main campaign themes going forward; no one is above the law. If that means that Hunter goes to prison if he's convicted, so be it. He doesn't have to stay there long, if he goes at all. 

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But what's stopping Joe Biden from pardoning Hunter after the election? The man's a bajillion years old. He's not running for office again. You think he cares about disappointing some subset of the American people by pardoning his kid before he walks out the door? Again, being honest here, I can't say I wouldn't do the same if I were in his position. 

If Biden loses, he's got a short window of opportunity to issue a pardon. If he's re-elected he could drag it out a bit, but his lame-duck status will still make him immune from any political pressure to keep his promise. He can pardon Hunter at will. Conservatives will rage (along, perhaps with a few criminal justice reform progressives angry that a middle-aged white dude like Hunter gets pardoned while scores of young men of color remain in prison for similar non-violent possessory crimes), most Democrats will obfuscate or defend Biden's actions as an act of a loving and wise father, and within a week most people will have moved on to the next "You've gotta be f****** kidding me," moment from Biden Part II, Octagenarian Boogaloo. 

There's a very good chance Hunter won't even go to prison before Election Day if he's convicted on any of the gun charges. He could get probation; unlike individuals like Patrick Darnell Daniels, who was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for using marijuana while owning guns (again, imagine the political problem Biden would create by pardoning his son while leaving someone like Daniels to serve almost four years behind bars). Sentencing could be several months after a guilty verdict, and Biden will probably remain free until it happens, or even until his appeals have concluded. 

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I'm sure Biden's comment will serve as column fodder for a host of liberal writers in coming days, eager to parrot Biden's theme and laud his moral authority, but as my friend Jim Geraghty says, every political statement comes with an expiration date. And in this case, my bet is that if Hunter Biden is convicted or pleads guilty, Joe Biden's pledge not to pardon his son expires on Wednesday, November 6th, 2024. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but until Election Day there's no reason for us to treat his pledge as anything other than the emptiest of campaign promises. 

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