Judge refuses to dismiss Duncan Hunter charges

Judge refuses to dismiss Duncan Hunter charges
© Greg Nash

A federal judge on Monday refused to dismiss the case against Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterDesperate in Southern California: Darrell Issa's 'back to the future' primary campaign misfires Democrats running to replace Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins vow to support ethics package California governor won't call special election for Duncan Hunter's seat MORE (R-Calif.), who was indicted in August on charges of fraud and campaign finance violations, according to CNN.

District Judge Thomas J. Whelan rejected claims by Hunter’s defense that because two assistant U.S. attorneys who brought the case against him had attended a fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatch live: Trump holds a rally in South Carolina On the ground at CPAC: Republicans see Sanders as formidable foe Home state candidates risk losing primaries MORE, the charges were politically motivated.

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Hunter's attorneys, in their pretrial motion, cited correspondence between the two assistant U.S. attorneys and the Secret Service indicating they arranged to take a photo with Clinton in August 2015, according to CNN.

"The former Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of California and the Assistant US Attorney leading the investigation of Congressman Hunter both attended a political fundraiser for candidate Clinton and shortly thereafter both were involved in initiating an investigation of the first Congressman to endorse candidate Trump. These facts alone warranted recusal,” they wrote.

Neither attorney donated to Clinton’s campaign and their office told Hunter’s lawyers they appeared at the event to provide assistance to law enforcement, according to CNN.

Whelan also tentatively denied a change-of-venue motion for the September trial. Hunter’s attorneys had argued local press coverage around the allegations would taint a San Diego jury pool. The court will revisit the issue during jury selection, according to CNN.

The ruling comes the week after Whelan, a Clinton appointee, ruled that evidence allegedly showing Hunter spent campaign funds on extramarital affairs could be used as evidence in the case.

Both Hunter and his wife Margaret initially pleaded not guilty, but Margaret has since reversed her initial plea. Hunter has been stripped of his committee assignments following the initial indictment.

Hunter’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.