Amid mounting pressure from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and others who survived the June, 2017 attack on a congressional baseball team practice, the FBI has finally reclassified the incident as one committed by a “domestic violent extremist,” abandoning its prior, much-maligned categorization of the event as “suicide-by-cop,” as Fox News reports.
In November of 2017, the FBI informed survivors of the brutal onslaught — in which 100 rounds were fired — that it had determined the attack to be “suicide-by-cop,” a move that angered those who suffered serious injuries that day, including Scalise, who nearly died from his wounds and endured a long, arduous recovery process.
The agency’s change in position last week came on the heels of a House Intelligence Committee hearing in April during which GOP Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) raised the issue with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Wenstrup assailed the agency’s original classification of the shootings, saying that it was disrespectful to survivors and did not address the heroic acts of first responders who stopped the gunman from inflicting even more harm.
Wenstrup’s comments at the hearing were followed up with a letter from Rep. Scalise and over a dozen other House Republicans formally requesting an FBI review of its initial conclusions about the event, reminding the agency that “Prior to opening fire [gunman James Hodgkinson] even asked if the Members on the field that morning were Republican or Democrat and was assured that the Members were Republicans.”
Indeed, Hodgskinson was later discovered to be a staunch opponent of Republicans and then-President Donald Trump, a supporter of far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and a frequent poster of social media screeds critical of conservatives, as Fox News separately noted.
Scalise reiterated to Fox News last month that the FBI’s classification of the attack was “disturbing,” and that on the day at issue, Hodgkinson “went there to kill Republicans, and he had a list of Republicans in his pocket. He specifically asked if that was the Republican practice before he went back and got his guns and came out. He didn’t know the security detail with me were cops, because they were plainclothes officers.”
The lawmakers’ letter also pointed to a broader concern about a possible weakness in the agency’s processes, saying, “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 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.”
Notably, agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security as well as local Alexandria, Virginia prosecutors had previously labeled the attack on the ball field an assassination attempt as well as an act of domestic terrorism, yet the FBI had, inexplicably, remained unmoved.
Though the reluctance of bureacrats in D.C. to properly characterize Hodgkingsons attack is frustrating evidence of a glaring double standard when it comes to assessing potential political motivations behind acts of violence, it is good to see that the FBI has – albeit belatedly – provided an honest explanation of what was truly behind the horrifying events of nearly four years ago.