Trump Wouldn't Last Under Torture, GOP Congressman Says Amid John McCain POW Backlash

A GOP congressman from California said Friday night that President Donald Trump wouldn't hold up well under torture, coming to the defense of Republican Senator John McCain as Trump surrogates continue to attack the Arizona legislator and veteran over his service record.

HBO's Bill Maher asked Representative Duncan Hunter how long he thought the president could withstand torture, to which the congressman, who served three overseas tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, quipped, "not very long." The comment was met with laughs from Maher's audience.

Maher agreed: "He'd probably torture his torturers, talking about the election. 'Nobody thought I'd get to 300," the HBO host said, referencing Trump's habit of invoking his electoral college win during interviews.

Hunter's candor came after a week of Trump surrogates hurling insults at McCain, whose announcement that he would be opposing CIA pick Gina Haspel roiled some within his own party. On Thursday, a guest on Fox Business Network accused McCain of succumbing to torture during the Vietnam war, dubbing him "Songbird John." (The guest will no longer appear on the show.) Also on Thursday, special assistant to the president Kelly Sadler reportedly suggested that the views of McCain, who is battling brain cancer, are irrelevant since the Arizona Republican is "dying anyway."

Trump, too, has slung insults at the ailing senator, infamously insinuating in 2015 that McCain wasn't a war hero because he was captured and spent more than five years as a prisoner of war.

Hunter, who endorsed the president early during the 2016 campaign, went on to call the onslaught of attacks "rotten," but cushioned his criticism by saying that he had also made crass jokes during his time in the armed forces.

"I've made the same John McCain joke with my friends, who are other Marines," the congressman said. 'If I were a better pilot, I wouldn't get shot down.'... I've made that joke. But I make it to my friends, not on national TV as the contender for the US presidency."

"It shouldn't be done," he conceded.

Hunter's appearance on Maher's show also came as the GOP congressman is facing mounting controversy over allegations that he violated campaign ethics. The Department of Justice is investigating the Southern California representative, The House Ethics Committee announced in March.

Investigators said in a news release that Hunter "may have converted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds from his congressional campaign committee to personal use to pay for family travel, flights, utilities, healthcare, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries and other goods, services, and expenses."

"The Department of Justice is tricky business," Hunter said, when Maher briefly brought up the investigation.

This article has been updated with information about the Fox guest, who will no longer be appearing on the business network.