The California Republican spent months claiming he was the victim of a “witch hunt” before saying Monday he would plead guilty
Government watchdogs on Monday called for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s immediate resignation after it was reported that the California Republican would change his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” in the case of his alleged campaign finance violations.
Hunter told KUSI Newsin San Diego in an exclusive interview which aired Monday that he plans to plead guilty on Tuesday to using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and falsifying Federal Election Commission (FEC) records to conceal the purchases.
The six-term congressman said he planned to plead guilty to avoid a public trial.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said on social media, “We’re glad he’ll finally face consequences for his actions,” and called on Hunter to resign.
Duncan Hunter has shown a blatant disregard for the law & engaged in one of the most egregious spending scandals we’ve ever seen. We’re glad he’ll finally face consequences for his actions. Now that he’ll be convicted for criminally abusing his office, he must resign immediately.
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) December 2, 2019
.@CREWcrew filed multiple complaints years ago against Congressman Duncan Hunter for using many thousands in campaign funds for his personal benefit. He was charged criminally and tomorrow will plead guilty. Now he must resign.https://t.co/NxMwDELPG7
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) December 2, 2019
Hunter was accused of misusing the funds over a year ago. Like President Donald Trump, who Hunter endorsed early in the 2016 presidential election, the congressman spent months deriding the charges against him as a “witch hunt.” He won re-election three months after the allegations came to light.
Hunter’s expected guilty plea will make him the second loyal Trump supporter to admit to committing a felony in two months. In October, former Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) pleaded guilty to insider trading soon after announcing his resignation.
Collins and Hunter were the first and second members of Congress to endorse Trump, and the president vehemently defended both against their charges.
Tomorrow, Duncan Hunter will become the second Trump-supporting congressman to run an extensive campaign claiming they were the target of a witch hunt and then subsequently admit to doing crimes. https://t.co/f1bZv1opbR
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) December 2, 2019
Robert Maguire, research director for CREW, noted that Hunter and Collins are just two Trump allies and associates now facing criminal charges.
In October, Chris Collins—the 1st member of Congress to endorse Trump in 2016—pleaded guilty to felony crimes related to insider trading.
Tomorrow, Duncan Hunter—the 2nd member of Congress to endorse Trump—will reportedly plead guilty to an array of felonies related all this 👇 https://t.co/C64c7zblGW
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) December 2, 2019
Among Hunter’s alleged misuses of his campaign funds were purchases made in connection with several affairs he had with lobbyists and congressional aides—violating the congressional code of conduct. His expected guilty plea comes weeks after the resignation of former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, a fellow Californian who stepped down in October, days after admitting to a romantic relationship with a campaign aide. Misuse of campaign funds was not included in the accusations against Hill, who was also the victim of having sexually explicit images of her released without consent.
Several political observers pointed out the sharp contrast between Hunter’s decision to continue serving in Congress and run for re-election with the full support of the president, and Hill’s immediate resignation.
Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to finance his fancy lifestyle and pay for affairs with at least five women– three lobbyists and two Congressional staffers–and will serve out the remainder of his term while Katie Hill quit after being the victim of revenge porn by RW media.
— Joshua Holland 🔥 (@JoshuaHol) December 2, 2019
I’m old enough to remember when Rep. Katie Hill was forced to resign for far less. https://t.co/N13K7BwDrm
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) December 2, 2019
Hunter indicated Monday that he will leave Congress before the 2020 election, telling KUSI that he “wants his seat to remain in Republican hands and he will try to ensure a smooth transition.”
Trump announces Rudy Giuliani ‘wants to go before Congress’ and testify about his Ukraine dealings
President Donald Trump on Saturday said that his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, wanted to testify before Congress.
Speaking to reporters as he departed for a Republican fundraiser in Florida, Trump praised the former New York City mayor.
"Rudy, as you know, has been one of the great crime fighters of the last 50 years," Trump said of his lawyer, who is reportedly under federal investigation for breaking the law.
"And, he did get back from Europe just recently and I know -- he has not told me what he found, but I think he wants to go before Congress and say, and also to the attorney general and the Department of Justice," Trump said.
GOP governors are refusing to do Trump’s bidding and ducking him on the campaign trail: report
On Saturday, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times profiled how President Donald Trump is having less luck whipping Republican governors into line than Republican senators, including governors who arguably owe their election to his support.
"In Florida, Mr. Trump’s aides helped save the flailing candidacy of Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Republican primary, and then the general election," wrote Haberman. "Also last year, in Georgia, Mr. Trump helped pull Brian Kemp over the finish line in both the primary and the general election. In both cases, Mr. Trump’s advisers implored him to stay out of the primaries, and he agreed to — only to surprise his aides by jumping in to support Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp."
Courts have avoided refereeing between Congress and the president — Trump may change all that
President Donald Trump’s refusal to hand over records to Congress and allow executive branch employees to provide information and testimony to Congress during the impeachment battle is the strongest test yet of legal principles that over the past 200 years have not yet been fully defined by U.S. courts.
It’s not the first test: Struggles over power among the political branches predate our Constitution. The framers chose not to, and probably could not, fully resolve them.