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US Representative Duncan Hunter pleads not guilty to campaign finance charges

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U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret pleaded not guilty on Thursday to federal charges alleging misuse of $250,000 in campaign funds, in a case that could hand the Trump supporter’s otherwise safe seat to a Democrat.

Bail for Hunter was set at $15,000, and for Margaret Hunter at $10,000.

Hunter is the second Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives to face criminal charges this month. On Aug. 8, Republican U.S. Representative Christopher Collins of New York was charged with taking part in an insider trading scheme.

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“There are serious allegations in the indictment with a large amount of money stolen from the campaign by both defendants,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern said on Thursday, as protesters shouted “Shame! Shame!” outside.

Hunter has called the prosecution politically motivated and asserted that prosecutors on the case were supporters of failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“This is evidenced by the fact that after two years of investigating, the Department of Justice decided to take this action right before my election,” he said on Wednesday.

The indictment against Hunter and his wife on Tuesday also came the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of tax and bank fraud, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to crimes including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

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The highly detailed indictment by a grand jury in San Diego alleged that the Hunters used campaign accounts to pay for their children’s private school tuition, lavish travel including a trip to Italy and restaurant meals that frequently cost hundreds of dollars.

It also alleges that the Hunters lied about what they spent the money on, saying that purchases of groceries, restaurant meals and clothing were for charity or for campaign events.

“The Hunters’ improper use of campaign funds for personal expenses occurred despite numerous warnings about the prohibition against using campaign funds for personal expenses and repeated inquiries from Duncan Hunter’s campaign treasurer about questionable purchases,” U.S. attorney Adam Braverman, an interim Trump administration appointee, said in a news release.

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Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego, California, and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Robert Birsel and Matthew Lewis


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘The wheels are coming off’: MSNBC panel says Trump told his chief of staff to ‘walk the plank’

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Two MSNBC anchors discussed Thursday's whirlwind day of breaking news in scandals involving President Donald Trump.

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" joined Brian Williams on "The 11th Hour" to discuss Trump holding the G7 Summit at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course and the White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confessing that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine -- before attempting to walk back his confession.

"Did things change today, do you think?" Williams asked.

"I do feel like the wheels are coming off," Maddow said.

"For the Energy Secretary [Rick Perry] to resign, you've had two cabinet secretaries resign during the impeachment proceedings already, one of whom, the current one resigning tonight, the Energy Secretary, does appear to be involved in the scheme, at least on a couple of different levels. We have got the White House Chief of Staff who was sent out today, not only to make the, 'Yes, it was quid pro quo. Yes, we did it. What are you going to make of it?' article -- which was bracing, but then to take it back, simultaneously announcing this self-dealing, which is something more blatant than we’ve ever seen from any president in U.S. history," she explained.

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Rick Wilson rips Trump for holding G7 meeting at his ‘South Florida House of Bed Bugs Hotel’

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Republican strategist Rick Willson blasted President Donald Trump after the administration announced that the G7 meeting of world leaders would be held at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course.

Chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney announced the severely under-performing resort would receive the lucrative contract during a contentious White House briefing.

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2020 Election

Trump impersonated a CNN anchor — and a US president — during epic meltdown at Texas speech

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President Donald Trump offered multiple impersonations during a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Trump showed the crowd his impersonation of a president of the United States -- and a CNN anchor.

"No guns. No religion. No oil. No natural gas," Trump said. "Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas under those circumstances. Couldn’t do it."

In fact, Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas when he ran for president as the state refused to print any ballots with his name.

He then showed the audience two impersonations as part of his 87-minute speech.

"I used it to say, I can be more presidential. Look," Trump said, as he shuffled awkwardly on stage.

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