Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) confirmed on Saturday that he posed for a photo with a dead enemy combatant while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, claiming that said practice is common among American soldiers. Hunter, a veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was attempting to alleviate some of the pressure from Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes, by making his acts seem more commonplace and less heinous.

This isn’t the first time that Rep. Hunter has been caught up in controversy. During his reelection campaign in November, the lawmaker was indicted on charges of federal corruption for misuse of campaign funds. Despite the charges, however, Hunter was able to claim a victory over his opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar. Campa-Najjar, who plans to challenge Hunter again, released a statement from another veteran of the Iraq war, Chris Dalton, which condemned the actions of men like Gallagher and Hunter. In his statement, Dalton said that “American military tradition, American values, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice demand that we be better than the actions he spoke about from that stage.”


Hunter’s actions have earned him increased ire from his fellow lawmakers, with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) calling for the California representative to be charged with war crimes himself. Additionally, as a result of his comments, Hunter has been removed from all congressional committees. Hunter and his wife are still set to go to trial later this year for the charges of corruption, with their next court hearing on July 29.


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Gallagher, who President Donald Trump is considering pardoning, has been accused by many of his fellow SEALs of committing such atrocities as stabbing a captive teenage ISIS fighter and taking a photo with his corpse, firing on innocent Iraqi civilians, and firing into crowds of noncombatants. His squadmates reported that Gallagher threatened to kill them if they reported him. The former SEAL is set to go to trial on June 10.

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