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White House rules out Joe Biden’s presidential pardon for Hunter Biden


Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden, departs the J Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse on July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Delaware. — AFP
Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden, departs the J Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse on July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Delaware. — AFP

The White House on Thursday said that US President Joe Biden would not pardon his son Hunter Biden after he pleaded not guilty to two tax-related charges — both misdemeanours.

At a briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied the possibility of the US president pardoning his son from a presidential perspective, by simply replying “no,” without further details.

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to two tax charges, both misdemeanours, on Wednesday in court in Wilmington, Delaware, where he had been expected to plead guilty as part of a deal with federal prosecutors also including a pre-trial diversion program on the guns charges, a felony.

The deal’s delay was due to the judge’s question about its scope.

Republicans argue that Biden’s business affairs and personal issues, including addiction, show Joe Biden’s corruption and warrant his impeachment. Meanwhile, right-wingers have long criticised how federal authorities handled the president’s son.

The pardon power, according to Article 2 of the US Constitution, says the president “shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment”.

The pardon power has gained controversy, with presidents like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump bestowing pardons and acts of clemency on supporters.

Trump considered pardoning himself, citing potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, and exploring pre-emptive pardons for family members, but did not ultimately take this step.

Currently, Trump faces 71 criminal indictments and more as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. His lawyers are expected to pursue legal battles to seize pardon power while state-level indictments are not subject to presidential pardons.

Additionally, Trump faces 34 charges in New York for hush-money payments to a porn star during the 2016 election and is expected to be indicted in Georgia for election subversion in 2020.

On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre told reporters Hunter Biden was “a private citizen”, and called his legal problems “a personal matter for him”, The Guardian reported.

“As we have said, the president [and] the first lady, they love their son, and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life. This case was handled independently, as all of you know, by the justice department under the leadership of a prosecutor appointed by the former president.”

Furthermore, Biden has used limited pardon power, primarily for drug-related convictions while Trump issued 143 pardons and 94 commutations in his four-year term, including controversial ones for advisers Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort.

Pew Research Center reveals Trump’s executive clemency power is used less frequently than most other presidents since the 20th century.


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