Last year Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter was criminally indicted for campaign finance fraud. He pleaded not guilty, and managed to win reelection in his deeply red district while awaiting trial. His trial still hasn’t arrived. But a major shift in the criminal case against him means he’s got a huge problem.
Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter were jointly charged with conspiring to criminally misuse campaign funds. Initially, they both pleaded not guilty. But now Margaret has decided to plead guilty, and according to CNN, she’s entering a cooperation agreement as part of her plea. In other words, she just flipped on her husband. Translation: Duncan Hunter is screwed. So now what?
It’s not a guarantee that Duncan Hunter will now be found guilty. But it’ll be highly difficult for a jury to ignore the evidence and testimony provided by his wife, in crimes that they’re jointly accused of committing. Realistically, Hunter only has two ways out of this. One is to plead guilty himself, which would send him to prison for a reduced amount of time. The other would be to keep fighting, get convicted, and then beg his pal Donald Trump for a pardon.
Thus far Donald Trump has been willing to pardon his political allies like Joe Arpaio, so long as their criminal scandals aren’t associated with Trump’s own criminal scandals. Trump has avoided pardoning people like Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort, who are participants in his own scandals, presumably because that would take away their criminal jeopardy and thus effectively force them to testify against him. So yeah, we could see Trump pardoning Duncan Hunter – but it would certainly mean the end of Hunter’s career. Bottom line: he’s really screwed.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report