GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter says he’s victim of Justice ‘witch hunt’
Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) adamantly denied charges on Wednesday that he misused campaign funds, claiming that he is the victim of a Department of Justice (DOJ) “witch hunt.”
Hunter accused top law enforcement officials of having a “political agenda” and slammed the media coverage of his indictment. The statement echoes the words of President Trump, who has repeatedly called the DOJ’s Russia probe a “rigged witch hunt” and has dismissed the investigation as “fake news.”
“The fact is that there is a culture operating within our Justice Department that is politically motivated. We are seeing this with President Trump; we are seeing this with my case,” Hunter said in a lengthy statement on Wednesday issued through his campaign.
“All the while, there has been a constant barrage of misinformation and salacious headlines in our media regarding this matter. I purposely choose to remain silent, not to feed into this witch-hunt and trust the process.”
Hunter and his wife Margaret were indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in California on charges of misusing at least $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and falsifying campaign records.
The indictment claims Hunter routinely dipped into his campaign coffers like a personal bank account, allegedly misusing campaign funds to pay for family vacations, dental work, rounds of golf, birthday gifts, sporting events, school tuition and hefty bar tabs.
The 47-page indictment claims that in one instance, Hunter bought clothes at a golf course and misrepresented them as golf balls for wounded warriors. It also accuses Hunter of using campaign funds to stay at the Liaison Hotel in Washington, D.C., with “individual 14,” who Hunter also allegedly took on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe using campaign dollars.
Hunter, one of Trump’s earliest congressional backers on Capitol Hill, tore into the DOJ for taking legal action just two months before the midterm elections and questioned why investigators never spoke with him directly about the case.
“For over two years, I have made myself available to cooperate with this investigation in any manner. To date, I have not been asked one time to answer any questions or address any issue,” Hunter said. “I have not had one opportunity to present my side of anything in this investigation or to counter any allegations against me.”
Hunter also accused three of the prosecutors, including the one that signed off on the indictment, of being partisan because they attended a fundraising event at a private home in 2015 during “working hours.”
“My constituents are not easily misled. I know they can recognize a political agenda when they see it and they can disregard empty rhetoric when they hear it,” he said. “I fought for our nation against terrorists in the Marine Corps. I fight for my constituents in the halls of Congress. I will fight this in the same manner and with the same level of determination because I believe in what I am fighting for and still have faith that evidence and the rule of law will trump political agendas and bias.”
Hunter, a former Marine who has been in Congress since 2009, has also indicated that he will fight Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) call for him to be removed from his committee assignments.
A House GOP source close to the process told The Hill on Wednesday that Hunter is not voluntarily resigning his committee assignments. This will lead the Republican Steering Committee to meet to recommend his forcible removal when the House returns in September.
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