Congress

Rep. Hunter pretends to cross the Mexico border and gets called out for violating ‘parole’

California Republican recorded video as part of a ride-along with Customs and Border Patrol

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and his Democratic challenger got in a row over the congressman’s apparent claim that he crossed a U.S.-Mexico border barrier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and his Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar traded Twitter barbs Thursday over a video Hunter posted in which he appeared to suggest he was crossing the southern border into Mexico.

Campa-Najjar sent an email to the Times of San Diego, with the subject line: “Hunter breaks the law violates parol,” meaning parole.

Hunter and his wife, who at times has also served as his campaign treasurer, were indicted by a federal grand jury last August and pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment days later. They were released on $15,000 bond. He will face trial later this year.

According to the Times of San Diego, Hunter’s bond forbids him from traveling outside the continental United States.

In the video, Hunter eases himself over a railing before proclaiming, “That’s how easy it is to cross the border in Yuma, Arizona.”

But Hunter, the legally embattled Republican from California’s 50th District, did not actually cross into Mexico at the border as he appeared to claim in the video. The railing was a vehicle barrier positioned roughly 75 to 100 feet away from the Colorado River — the actual U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma.

“It looks pretty tough to cross. Let me see if I can do it,” Hunter says in the video, before sweeping his legs up and over the waist-high vehicle barrier’s horizontal bar and plopping down on the other side.

In the video, which captures Hunter’s reaction to a ride-along with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the congressman says he visited a detention facility where he saw “hundreds of illegal aliens who are going to be let loose within the next two days into the country.”

In another shot behind the vehicle barrier, Hunter says, “This is why we need a wall. This is why Trump is right. This is what we need to get rid of and expand upon to secure this country.”

Hunter spokesman Michael Harrison lambasted Campa-Najjar, saying the Democrat was seeking media attention and drumming up controversy.

“Congressman Hunter remained in the U.S. … I recognize our opponent is trying to create a headline, but I would encourage him and others to look and review a map,” Harrison said, per a reporter for POLITICO California.

Campa-Najjar fired back that Hunter was the one trying to stir the pot by claiming he was in Mexico.

Hunter either broke the law and violated the conditions of his release or was pulling a political stunt, Campa-Najjar said, according to the Times of San Diego.

Hunter faces trial in September on 60 federal charges related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses such as a family vacation to Italy and dental work.

Amid his legal controversy, Hunter won a sixth term last fall, defeating Campa-Najjar by 3 points in a district President Donald Trump had carried by 15 points two years earlier. Campa-Najjar is seeking a rematch in 2020. 

Flashback: Trump announces national emergency on border, despite likely legal challenge

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