The Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded Wednesday that no link existed between political ideology and the attempted murder of Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise. It is a conclusion that flies in the face of everything known about James Hodgkinson, the man who opened fire June 14th at practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. The deliberate whitewashing of Hodgkinson’s obvious political motivation casts a shadow over the Bureau. It raises ominous questions about the FBI’s competence and political neutrality. Just as importantly, it poses serious questions about the Bureau’s ability – or willingness – to conduct proper investigations into future acts of political violence, which may well be just over the horizon.
- The disconnect between what facts the FBI has uncovered about Hodgkinson and what conclusions they have chosen to draw from those facts is staggering:
- They know that he was a member of at least one Facebook group that was violently anti-Republican. Townhall reports the name of that group as “Terminate the Republican Party.”
- Investigators are also aware that the shooter posted numerous social media tirades against President Donald Trump and the Republicans.
- He also wrote letters to the editor of his local newspaper in Illinois, The Belleville News-Democrat, expounding on his extreme leftwing positions.
- Hodgkinson was a staunch supporter of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, with the Senator himself confirming that Hodgkinson had worked for his campaign.
It has been ascertained that 66-year-old Hodgkinson was training with firearms before leaving his home to travel to Washington, D.C. He had been target shooting in a wooded area behind his home so often that his neighbors called the police, at one point. He traveled to the nation’s capital two days before the attack. He was in possession of at least two firearms and some 200 rounds of ammunition. He also had with him a camera and had taken photographs of the baseball park – the scene of his attack – as well as other locations around the capital.
On the day of the shooting, before opening fire at the baseball field, Hodgkinson approached two Republican lawmakers and inquired about the party affiliations of those taking part in the practice. According to an NBC report, “Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told CNBC that a man came up to him and Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., at the practice and asked if the players on the field were Republicans or Democrats.”
During the approximately five-minute shooting spree, Hodgkinson fired some 60 rounds, hitting Rep. Scalise and wounding four others, before being fatally shot by a law enforcement officer.
The shooter had no known history of mental illness or other psychological issues. It was later revealed that he had with him a list of six names – all congressional Republicans.
Despite all of this, a senior FBI official speaking at a press conference Wednesday appeared to all but brushed off any suggestion that the attack was premeditated or that the gunman had intentionally targeted Republicans. As far as the Bureau is concerned – at this point – the attack was a random, spontaneous shooting, inspired by nothing and targeting no-one, specifically. “At this point in the investigation,” said Tim Slater of the FBI’s Washington field office, “[the attack] appears more spontaneous.”
Use of the word “spontaneous,” in this context, is jaw-dropping. The word clearly implies no premeditation or planning of any sort, which is certainly not the case.
Hodgkinson had no known links to any extremist organizations or terror groups. Nevertheless, by any standards, he carried out an act of terrorism, motivated by his political views. Scalise may not have been the man’s pre-selected target but to suggest that Hodgkinson opened fire without any direct intentions of killing one or more Republican politicians is nothing short of dishonest. A staggering lack of competence, on the Bureau’s part, is the only other possibility.
There can be no doubt that James Hodgkinson was motivated by radical leftwing ideology, a hatred of President Trump and, more generally, of the Republican Party. Acting upon these emotions and beliefs, he prepared and carried his attack. Whilst he may not have specifically targeted Scalise, he fully intended to kill Republican members of Congress. There was nothing random or spontaneous about his actions.
An argument can be made that the FBI has chosen to downplay the political motivations behind this attack, so as to not further inflame current political tensions. Since the facts have been extensively reported in the press and widely disseminated across social media platforms, the shooter’s true motivation is beyond question. Thus, the Bureau has risked further inflaming partisan acrimony. Such manifest disregard for the evidence, in this case, has painted the FBI as being, at best, incapable of following the clues to their logical conclusion. At worst, the agency appears to have succumbed to politicization, to a point where it intentionally misrepresents its own findings.