James Hodgkinson’s attempt to massacre Republican House members was the culmination of a surge of leftist violence aimed at conservatives. The Bernie Sanders supporter had calculatedly planned his attack and chosen his targets.
They helped shape Hodgkinson’s conviction that Republicans had to be destroyed. Or as the title of a Facebook group that he belonged to put it, “Terminate the Republican Party.”
He opened fire at a Republican charity baseball practice, seriously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise, and Zack Barth, an aide to Rep. Roger Williams. Even though Hodgkinson had a hit list of conservative Republicans, Rep. Mo Brooks, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Jim Jordan, Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith, the FBI denied that it was a political assassination.
The FBI’s response was, in a word, bizarre.
Hodgkinson, who was from Belleville, Illinois, did not have a diagnosed history of mental illness, but was “struggling in a lot of aspects of his life,” FBI Special Agent Tim Slater said at a press conference.
Slater said that the shooting appeared to be “spontaneous,” and that investigators had not yet determined Hodgkinson’s motive. He was “acting alone” when he opened fire, the FBI said.
“It was a pattern of life where you could tell things were not going well for Tom,” Slater said, referring to Hodgkinson by his middle name.
Slater said it did not appear that Hodgkinson had a target in mind when he opened fire at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria last week.
Hodgkinson had a piece of paper that listed the names of six members of Congress, the FBI investigation revealed. However, there was “no context” included in the list.
Slater asserted that this was not a “hit list,” and that the FBI did not believe that Hodgkinson had any targets among, or had made any threats against, any of those six unidentified members of Congress.
“Hodgkinson made numerous posts on all of his social media accounts espousing anti-Republican views, although all of the posts reviewed thus far appear to be First Amendment-protected speech,” the FBI said in a press release.
Like, Terminate the Republican Party.
The FBI confirmed that a witness reported that Hodgkinson has asked them on the morning of the shooting: “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” Hodgkinson reportedly remained at the baseball field when the witness told him it was a Republican practice, the FBI said.
So a leftist who spent all his time ranting about conservatives, had a list of names of Republican House members whom he tried to kill, came to the baseball field, asked if it was the Republican team, and opened fire, but the FBI insisted that he had no plan and was just struggling in his life.
A good BuzzFeed follow-up piece in 2018 actually told the story of the shooting fairly well and the FBI’s false conclusion.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s Washington Field Office said that Hodgkinson “espoused anti-Republican rhetoric,” but that because Hodgkinson is dead, “We may never know his motivations.”
The FBI briefed the players on their findings in the fall of last year. Several members were shocked they wouldn’t call the shooting politically motivated. Palmer ended up leaving after about a half hour.
But many lawmakers are mad, or frustrated, or saddened, at how quickly the story disappeared from the headlines given that the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, targeted Republicans. The FBI concluded the shooting wasn’t politically motivated — suicide by cop, they told members after an investigation.
The suicide part is getting fresh attention as it should considering the huge double standard with the Capitol Riot.
A congressman who was on the baseball field during the 2017 shooting that nearly killed GOP Whip Steve Scalise says the FBI privately informed lawmakers it ruled the attack a “suicide by cop,” a designation he said downplayed the shooter’s apparently political motivation.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) revealed the previously undisclosed determination during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, upbraiding FBI Director Christopher Wray and prompting several colleagues of both parties to pile on. He said FBI agents privately briefed the baseball team on Nov. 16, 2017 to deliver the controversial determination.
Politico is wrong about it being undisclosed. But Politico is wrong a lot of the time. The full details from the story are actually even worse.
There’s zero ambiguity about the fact that this was a planned attack.
But Hodgkinson carried a list of names of lawmakers in his pocket: Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, Trent Franks, Scott DesJarlais, Jeff Duncan, and Morgan Griffith. The list included their office numbers and short physical descriptions. He’d recorded video of the field in April of that year — a sign, the prosecutor wrote in his official report, that Hodgkinson “had already selected Simpson field as a potential target as early as April 2017.”
What exactly is this except a target list? Why would he have needed physical descriptions?
The FBI’s refusal to even publicly state its conclusions is equally bizarre.
The FBI declined repeated inquiries by POLITICO to comment on the exchange or to confirm that it did, in fact, classify the shooting as a “suicide by cop.”
Considering that there is no pending trial and that the victims, who are members of Congress, want it discussed, why does the FBI keep stonewalling?
In 2019, Director Wray named Slater the Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office. Slater retired last year to head the National Insurance Crime Bureau.