Indicted Republican Lawmaker Borrows From Trump’s Defiant Playbook

(Bloomberg) -- The California Republican congressman who was one of Donald Trump’s earliest backers for the presidency is defending himself against corruption charges much the same way Trump blames his own legal woes on Justice Department politics.

Free on bail after pleading not guilty Thursday in San Diego federal court to a raft of charges that he and his wife misused campaign money for personal expenses, Representative Duncan Hunter hurried down the sidewalk followed by a throng of reporters and demonstrators chanting “Lock him up, shame, shame.”

His attorney, meanwhile, made a brief statement outside the courthouse to try to turn the tables on the federal prosecutors who persuaded a grand jury to indict Hunter and his wife for allegedly dipping into more than $250,000 in campaign funds for expenses ranging from family vacations to dental work.

“This investigation, we believe, was politically motivated,” lawyer Gregory Vega said, echoing a statement issued Wednesday by Hunter. “There were two prosecutors who attended a Democratic fundraiser for unexplained reasons.”

Asked to identify the prosecutors, Vega thanked the assembled reporters and quickly walked away. Phillip Halpern, one of the prosecutors handling the case, declined to comment on the fundraiser allegations.

Hunter and Representative Chris Collins, a New York Republican charged two weeks ago with insider trading, were the first House members to endorse Trump’s candidacy, back in February 2016.

Trump chided his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, Thursday for failing to “control” the Justice Department.

“We have somebody who they seem to go after a lot of Republicans,” Trump said of Sessions in an interview on Fox News.

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