Where in the world was Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Vapeville) when the historic impeachment of President Donald Trump went down on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019?
Who knows. Although we know where he wasn’t. At the impeachment.
Hunter had the distinction of being one of three lawmakers — Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois and Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano of New York were the others— who missed the historic House votes to impeach Trump.
Serrano, who also is retiring, has Parkinson’s disease and suffered a recent health setback. Shimkus, who is not seeking reelection, was on a long-planned trip to visit his son in Tanzania, where he’s serving in the Peace Corps.
And your good ole’ vaping self-proclaimed war criminal?
Hunter, who pleaded guilty to illegally using campaign money for personal expenses, was warned by the House Ethics Committee not to vote again, citing legislative rules that block those convicted of a serious crime from voting on the House floor, according to Associated Press.
Hunter had long dismissed the charges as a politically motivated conspiracy to drive him from office. In an abrupt turnaround Tuesday, Dec. 3, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiring with his wife to illegally use at least $150,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including for his daughter’s birthday party at a posh hotel and an outing with friends at a French bistro.
Hunter said he would resign after “the holidays,” after pleading guilty to illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses, his office disclosed Friday, Dec. 6. However, Hunter has refused to say specifically when he would get out of Congress.
Hunter, in his sixth term after succeeding his father in the House, was one of Trump’s first two congressional supporters after Trump announced his presidential run.
The other early supporter, Chris Collins, a four-term Republican from Buffalo, resigned in September after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to federal investigators. He admitted passing private information about Innate to his son to help him avoid financial losses. Collins faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years; his son and the father of his son’s fiancée are expected to plead guilty to related charges later this week.
Meanwhile, back at the Impeachment
A fourth lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, voted present on both articles of impeachment. The Democratic presidential candidate has opposed impeachment and instead has called for presidential censure.
San Diego County’s four Democratic representatives — Hunter is the sole Republican — each voted for the impeachment. Rep. Susan Davis, a San Diego Democrat who is the senior member of the delegation, voted to move the articles of impeachment forward to the Senate, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. She has criticized the president for putting his personal and political priorities ahead of national security and said he only has himself to blame for impeachment.
Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and freshman Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, cited their responsibility to uphold the Constitution when announcing they will vote in favor of both articles of impeachment. Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, addressed members of the House on the floor Wednesday prior to the vote and tweeted a lengthy twitter thread outlining why he intended to support impeachment.
Shimkus, in his 12th term representing eastern Illinois, issued a statement before the vote explaining his absence.
He said he opposed impeachment and informed Trump last week that he would miss the votes. “He was supportive of me visiting my son,” Shimkus said of the president.
The House voted Wednesday night to impeach Trump, making him only the third chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.
The House voted 230-197 to approve a charge that Trump abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. The House approved a second charge, that he obstructed Congress in its investigation, by a 229-198.
Shimkus said he was “disappointed to miss these votes but not embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that they are even happening.”