The 1st and 2nd members of Congress to endorse Trump will plead guilty to federal crimes, resign

Peter Weber

Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) said Monday he will plead guilty to one count of campaign finance violations on Tuesday and hinted he will step down from Congress, typically a precondition for the type of plea deal Hunter is accepting. Hunter is the second Republican member of Congress to plead guilty to federal crimes this fall, following Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and resigned in October. Coincidentally, Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2016 and Hunter was the second.

Hunter, 42, was first elected to his San Diego district in 2008, taking over from his father, Duncan Hunter Sr., who held the seat since 1980. The Hunter dynasty almost ended in 2016 when the younger Hunter, already under indictment, narrowly won his seat against a political unknown, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, initially pleaded not guilty to about 60 counts of campaign finance violations tied to flagrant misuse of campaign funds on personal expenses. Margaret Hunter changed her plea in June and agreed to testify against her husband. Faced with Duncan Hunter's continued denial of guilt, prosecutors disclosed more details in court filings this year, including evidence that Hunter used campaign funds to conduct extramarital affairs with at least five women, reportedly including three lobbyists and two congressional staffers.

Trump had nothing to do with the crimes to which Hunter and Collins pleaded guilty — though he did complain about their indictments. But including last month's conviction of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, at least six Trump campaign associates have pleaded guilty or been convicted of federal crimes — Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and George Papadopoulos — and his current personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other associates are in the federal barrel now, too.

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