No surprise then, as Mr. Hunter disclosed this week that he would plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds, he still tried to dodge accountability. “I am pleading guilty to one count,” Mr. Hunter told a television station Monday on the eve of his guilty plea, as he pointed out that the charge “does not involve one penny of taxpayer money.” No surprise that he maintained that his plea stemmed from the noblest of motives: “I think it’s important not to have a public trial for three reasons. And those three reasons are my kids.”
Please. There should be no illusions as to the seriousness of the crime or the strength of the government’s case. A 47-page federal indictment last year spelled out how from 2009 to 2016, Mr. Hunter and his wife (who also was charged) schemed to use thousands of dollars of campaign donations on everything from fancy overseas vacations and golf outings to mundane gas and grocery bills to $600 airfare for a pet rabbit. It was later alleged that Mr. Hunter used campaign funds to carry on extramarital affairs, including with one of his congressional staffers.
Mr. Hunter ran out of family scapegoats and pleaded guilty for one reason: He had no choice after his wife pleaded guilty in June to a single count of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, including possible testimony at trial. It’s also clear that Mr. Hunter’s disdain for the justice system and for the voters in his district who reelected him last year was modeled on a president who has made an art form out of denying facts and demonizing people who have the audacity to point them out.
Mr. Hunter, who is expected to resign from Congress, faces five years in prison. A prison term would be a reaffirmation of the U.S. system of justice and the principle that no one, no matter their position, is above the law.