House

Duncan Hunter agrees to step down from House committees

Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has agreed to step down from his committee assignments, a GOP leadership source told The Hill.

Hunter, who was indicted Tuesday for allegedly misusing thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for lavish vacations and other personal expenses, initially signaled that he would fight Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) call for him to step down from his committee posts.

That would have forced the Steering Committee to meet to recommend his forcible removal in September, creating headaches for the GOP and another potentially embarrassing headline for Hunter.

The apparent reversal comes the same day that Hunter and his wife, Margaret, pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court in San Diego.

Hunter - one of President Trump's earliest supporters in Congress - maintains his innocence, arguing he is a victim of a politically motivated "witch hunt."

"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. I have not had one opportunity to present my side of anything in this investigation or to counter any allegations against me," Hunter said in a statement Wednesday.

"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's legal team also questioned the timing of the indictment, noting his name cannot be taken off the ballot in the November midterm elections.

Shortly after Tuesday's indictment was released, the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, shifted his seat's rating from safe to competitive.

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