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Biden says he won’t pardon Hunter Biden. How will the case affect US election?

Hunter Biden was found guilty on June 11 on all charges related to his drug use and gun possession, making him the first child of a sitting US president to be convicted of a crime.

Here's what we know about the historic case.

Hunter Biden (Photo/Xinhua)

What were the charges?

All the charges stem from an incident in 2018 when Hunter Biden purchased a revolver without disclosing his drug addiction.

These charges include:

1. Making false statements: Hunter Biden lied about his drug use on a federally mandated form when purchasing a firearm.

2. Illegal gun possession: He illegally possessed a firearm for 11 days while using drugs.

3. Lying to a firearms dealer: He provided false information to the gun dealer during the purchase.

Will Hunter Biden go to prison?

Despite the charges carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years, it is unlikely that Hunter Biden will serve such a lengthy term.

Maryellen Noreika, the federal district court judge overseeing the case, has not immediately announced the verdict. Under the US federal legal system, first-time offenders typically receive sentences far below the maximum. The federal sentencing guidelines suggest a lighter punishment, and judges often deviate from these guidelines based on the unique circumstances of each case.

Legal experts predict that Hunter Biden might receive a sentence of 15 to 21 months, or possibly probation or home confinement, due to his status as a non-violent first-time offender.

Hunter Biden's defense team plans to appeal the verdict, further complicating the immediate future of his sentencing.

How will President Biden be affected by his son's guilty verdict?

President Biden has publicly stated that he will not pardon his son. Despite the personal and emotional strain this situation places on the Biden family, current polling and political analysis suggest that Hunter Biden's legal troubles have minimal impact on the president's political standing. Most voters appear to differentiate between Hunter Biden's actions and his father's presidency, focusing more on other pressing national issues.

How will these charges affect incoming US election?

Hunter Biden's legal issues are not expected to significantly influence the upcoming US election. Although the Republican Party continues to use the case to criticize President Biden, this strategy has not substantially shifted voter opinion. 

Polls from Emerson College show that 64 percent of voters say the trial will not affect their decision, while 24 percent are less likely to support Joe Biden, and 12 percent are more likely to support him. The primary concerns for voters remain economic issues, immigration policies, and other national matters rather than Hunter Biden's personal legal problems.

However, Hunter Biden still faces another trial in September for failing to pay $1.4 million in federal income taxes, which could pose a more significant political challenge for President Biden closer to the election.

Author | Lydia Liu, Qiu Xiantian (intern)

Editor | Steven Yuen, Monica Liu, James

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