With Hunter Biden facing a possible ten years in jail for his gun charge felony, speculation is growing as to whether the president will pardon his only living son.
As a politician, it would be his political end. As Hunter’s father, it would be a no-brainer. For Joe Biden, a politician who is Hunter’s father, it’s an incredibly tricky dilemma.
There are a range of factors to consider for such a dilemma, which may not even happen if Hunter is deemed innocent. But, for the purposes of this article only, we will assume that Hunter is found guilty.
First and foremost, Hunter would have to be sentenced to a lengthy prison term (for his charge of gun possession whilst a known drug user) before his father faced such a crisis.
It would make no logical sense for President Biden to throw away his lifelong reputation and career to pardon Hunter for anything less than four years in prison.
But the debate intensifies as the speculated years increase. If found guilty and Hunter serves a full ten years, the president would be into his 90s by the time his son is a free man.
Timing is everything
Joe Biden has already confirmed his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. As the polls stand, his GOP opponent will be former president Donald Trump in a rematch from four years before.
Trump will not be one to shy away from the Hunter controversy. It distracts from his own legal troubles for a start, and a focus on missing files within the Democratic Party has helped him win an election before.
He’s unlikely to care whether case is even still active. The name ‘Hunter Biden’ causes ears to perk up so much these days that it’s an easy way to attack the president, who has been somewhat sheepish on the controversy.
Even if Hunter escapes with a lenient punishment and serves his time, Trump will undoubtedly be sure to mention his name wherever possible on the campaign trail.
Ultimately, this leaves the president no option to pardon his son before November 5, 2024 – quite simply, it would cost him the election.
When would a pardon happen?
Assuming Hunter is serving a ten-year sentence by next November, then President Biden may opt to pardon his son shortly afterwards.
If the Republicans take the White House, it is unlikely Biden will run again. The oldest sitting president in U.S. history would be 86 at the start of a second term in 2029, and would have to face stiff competition from younger Democrats hungry for an opportunity to lead the country, as well as a new Republican rival once the primaries were finished.
With only weeks left of his presidency and his political career, Biden may opt to pardon his son before he leaves office, particularly if he uses Trump’s tactics against him and claims Hunter was sentenced as part of a Republican witch hunt.
If the president holds onto the White House, however, then he would need to be more tactical. A pardon before the 2026 mid-terms would have similar consequences to one before the 2024 election, with the Democrats losing the House of Representatives.
If Hunter was still in jail, and the president was not due to face any more major elections, it’s likely he would pardon his son by 2027.
But that, of course, depends on the outcome of his trial.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.