A member of Congress who survived the Congressional baseball practice mass shooting that nearly killed House GOP Whip Steve Scalise reportedly revealed the attack on Republican legislators was ruled a case of “suicide by cop” by the FBI, who allegedly sought to downplay the gunman's potential political motivations.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said during a House Intelligence Committee meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray last Thursday that, months after the shooting, the FBI privately briefed the members of the baseball team present that day and said the shooter was looking to commit suicide by cop, Politico reported.
“Much to our shock that day, the FBI concluded that this was a case of the attacker seeking suicide by cop,” Wenstrup said. “Director, you want suicide by cop, you just pull a gun on a cop. It doesn't take 136 rounds. It takes one bullet. Both the [Department of Homeland Security] and the [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] published products labeling this attack as a domestic violent extremism event, specifically targeting Republican members of Congress. The FBI did not.”
Wenstrup added that he contacted the agency a few days later to express his disgust with the Bureau's conclusion.
“Although the agents were not part of that investigation, they did not agree that this was suicide by cop and it's my firsthand opinion that this was an attempt at assassination of many Republican members of Congress,” Wenstrup said Thursday.
Wray was not yet in charge of the FBI at the time of the investigation. The Bureau was headed by Acting Director Andrew McCabe between May and August 2017. McCabe and former President Donald Trump were frequently at odds.
Scalise, R-La., was critically injured in the attack. A Capitol Police officer, congressional aide and lobbyist were also hurt and the shooter was killed after a lengthy gunfight with Scalise's security detail.
Some of Wenstrup’s Democrat colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, in a rare bit of bipartisanship, issued statements of support for his questioning.
“I actually would like to associate my — your comments with my interest in wanting to pursue that as well, Dr. Wenstrup,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.
“I'd like to second Dr. Wenstrup's questions on the near massacre of our colleagues in 2017,” added Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. “So I, like my colleague, Jackie Speier, have a particular interest in that.”
The agency has never publicly revealed its conclusions about gunman James Hodgkinson's motivations for the shooting, which took place on June 14, 2017. But a week after the ordeal, investigators revealed the shooter's social media history included posts advocating for left-leaning causes and candidates and slamming Republicans, particularly Trump.
Alexandria prosecutors at the time said that the attack constituted an act of terrorism.
“The evidence in this case establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect, fueled by rage against Republican legislators, decided to commit an act of terrorism as that term is defined by the Code of Virginia,” Commonwealth Prosecutor Bryan Porter said.
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