WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTAL/KMSS) – House Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is among 16 GOP congressmen asking for a review of the FBI’s conclusion that the June 2017 shooting that left him and several others seriously wounded was a case of “suicide by cop.”
“We fear that the FBI’s inability or unwillingness to fully investigate this shooting as a matter of domestic extremism four years ago leaves a blind spot within the Bureau in fully assessing risks we face today,” the group said in a letter Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Scalise, along with four others, were injured in the early-morning hours of June 14, 2017, when a lone gunman, James Thomas Hodgkinson, ambushed and opened fire at a Republican Congressional Baseball Team practice at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va. Hodgkinson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police, but not before he wounded the others.
The letter signed by Scalise and 15 other lawmakers pointed to recent promises by Wray to investigate domestic extremism, which has become a focus after a violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Republicans have responded to calls from Democrats to investigate extremism by pointing to instances of supporters of the left who have acted violently.
“Prior to opening fire, he even asked if the Members on the field that morning were Republican or Democrat and was assured that the Members were Republicans,” the letter said.
“Today, there is a heightened focus on violent domestic extremism in the United States. We all agree that violent extremism of any kind must be rooted out and addressed by our law enforcement agencies,” the letter states. “But we cannot presume to understand the scope of this issue if our law enforcement agencies do not investigate all instances of extremism, regardless of motivating ideology, with equal vigor.”
“Classifying the Congressional baseball attack by a leftist gunman with a hit list of Republicans as “suicide by cop” is offensive & inaccurate,” Scalise added in a tweet highlighting the letter Tuesday.
In calling for a renewed investigation of the 2017 shooting, the letter said FBI officials briefed members of the congressional baseball team in November 2017 about their conclusion. The lawmakers also want an internal investigation into what led the bureau to reach that conclusion.
“Several of us attended this FBI briefing. All of us who were present at the ballfield, as well as those targeted on Hodgkinson’s ‘list,’ write to you today demanding answers and accountability from the FBI,” they wrote.
“The FBI telling us that James Hodgkinson’s attempt to assassinate dozens of Members of Congress was simply “suicide by cop” does nothing to alleviate this concern. The need for the FBI to review its original conclusion is heightened by the determinations by the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria, as well as recent reports from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), clearly show that this was a domestic violent extremism event,” the members wrote.
The letter came on the same day Christopher Miller, President Donald Trump’s acting defense secretary during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, defended the Pentagon’s response to the chaos in a Congressional hearing, and as the FBI investigation into the Capitol Riots continues.