The Slatest

GOP Congressman Defends Accused War Criminal, Says He Also Took Photo of Dead Enemy

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) speaks to campaign staffers during a visit to one of his headquarters on November 6, 2018 in Santee, California.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) speaks to campaign staffers during a visit to one of his headquarters on November 6, 2018 in Santee, California.
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California came out to defend a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes with a curious strategy: saying he had also taken photos of dead bodies while serving in the Marine Corps. Hunter, like many fellow Republicans, has defended Edward Gallagher in the past against war crimes charges and he did it again over the weekend during a town hall meeting. “Eddie did one bad thing that I’m guilty of too—taking a picture of the body and saying something stupid,” Hunter said.

Hunter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he has taken photos “just like that when I was overseas” although he did not send it to anyone or post it on social media. “But a lot of my peers … have done the exact same thing,” Hunter said, according to the Times of San Diego.

Gallagher is actually accused of a lot more than a photograph. He is facing murder charges for allegedly killing a wounded teenage ISIS prisoner in Iraq in 2017. “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife,” Gallagher allegedly texted to a fellow SEAL alongside a photograph of himself next to the dead fighter. He is also accused of shooting two civilians in Iraq, indiscriminately opening fire on crowds, and intimidating witnesses, including fellow SEALs.

Although Hunter said Gallagher should be pardoned, he wants his court-martial to proceed so everyone can see “how disgusting the military justice system is when it’s run by lawyers and bureaucrats.” Hunter says the trial could “maybe give an example of how they can change the system.”

Hunter is also facing his own legal troubles as he and his wife were indicted in 2017 on allegations of using campaign funds for personal spending. They both pleaded not guilty.