ORLANDO — House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is praising FBI Director Christopher Wray’s openness to reevaluating the bureau’s conclusion that the congressional baseball shooting was a “suicide by cop” — after the 2017 attack by a left-wing extremist left him in critical condition.
The Louisiana Republican — who sustained near-fatal injuries after James Hodgkinson shot more than 100 rounds at GOP members and staff during a practice in Alexandria, Va., almost four years ago — praised his colleague, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), for raising the issue in a recent House Intelligence Committee hearing, adding he believes it is clear the attack was politically motivated.
“I was encouraged by the tone that Wray had, that number one, he made it very clear he wasn’t the director at the time, it was Andrew McCabe, interestingly, but he also questioned whether that was right and he was very open to reevaluating it because anybody who followed this case knows it was not suicide by cop,” he said while meeting with reporters at the House GOP retreat.
“The shooter went to target Republicans, he had a political agenda and names in his pocket of Republicans. He asked if this was the Republican practice, and the two Capitol police officers with me were both plainly clothed.”
Scalise praised his security detail — Crystal Griner and David Bailey, both of whom were injured during the shooting — and the police that assisted in protecting members during the incident, noting that Hodgkinson was still actively attempting to shoot when he was taken down.
He added that GOP lawmakers briefed by the FBI shortly after were “furious” and perplexed by the outcome, but said he was encouraged that there is a renewed bipartisan concern over the matter.
“That’s not suicide by cop, that’s a guy hiding trying to kill a cop who was exposed completely. And so for that to be classified that way, it was disturbing. And a lot of us on the baseball team, when it was first conveyed to us that that’s how they were classified, were furious,” he said.
“I’m glad that that Brad brought this back up again under the new director and I’m encouraged that he’s willing to look at it and Jackie Spier (D-Calif.), who was also on the committee, and she herself was a victim of gun violence in Guyana— you all know that story and it’s scary. You know, talk about another miracle that she made it. But she said I want to associate myself with [Wenstrup’s] the remarks. This isn’t a partisan thing it is just about accuracy in an FBI report where right now there’s a glaring omission, and I hope they fix it.”
Scalise said he would have taken aim at the conclusion sooner, but was focusing his energy on his recovery, which is still in progress— noting that other law enforcement agencies classified it as domestic violent extremism.
“I tried to move on from that. I don’t think about it every day. I focus on getting better, I’m still doing physical therapy so there was a lot of that I just put behind me just because I either focus on that or I focus on getting better. I didn’t have the energy or the time to worry about what the reports said — I know what happened,” he said, adding that he reviewed the Virginia police report he felt gave an accurate account of the events.
“I don’t understand how they came to that conclusion, I’d like to know why they did but I just didn’t have the time or the energy to focus on that.”