U.S. Capitol Police on Monday asked a federal prosecutor to approve an arrest warrant for Rep. Cynthia McKinney after she tangled with a uniformed officer last week.
“We are working with Capitol Hill police to fully understand and appreciate the incident,” principal assistant U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Phillips declined to say whether the referral included a recommended charge against the six-term Democrat or when a warrant for her arrest might be issued.
In a statement, Capitol Police said it “has referred its investigative findings to the U.S. attorney.” The department must acquire approval from U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein before it can ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant on assault or other charges.
McKinney spokesman Coz Carson acknowledged the investigation.
“We’re aware that the wheels are turning in Washington,” Carson said. “We have no control over what they decide to do. We will make the appropriate statement and take the appropriate action once we know where they’re going.”
For her part, McKinney said she expects to represent her suburban Atlanta district for many years.
“Rest assured, I am doing the work they sent me to Washington to do. Nothing is going to keep me away from my responsibilities,” McKinney told a crowd of supporters in Atlanta Monday.
McKinney, 51, scuffled with a police officer on March 29 when she entered a House office building without her identifying lapel pin and did not stop when asked. Several police sources said the officer, who was not identified, asked her three times to stop. When she kept going, he placed a hand somewhere on her and she hit him, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
McKinney issued a statement of regret for the incident, but no apology. At a press conference Friday, she and her lawyers declared that she was a victim of inappropriate touching and racism and said they were considering pursuing civil action against the officer.
Black clergy, lawmakers offer support
Black clergy and lawmakers came the defense of the firebrand congresswoman on Monday. McKinney smiled as her supporters heaped praise on her leadership and her new look — her trademark cornrows replaced earlier this year by a curly brown afro.
Her supporters tried to minimize the incident — which they called political, not criminal — but they also suggested it was an example of racial profiling. They called publicity surrounding the episode a distraction that is being used by “her enemies” to keep the congresswoman from performing her elected duties.
Immediately after the news conference, McKinney was ushered out of the building and into a black SUV, smiling and keeping silent when reporters questioned her.
The Rev. Reverend Darrell D. Elligan, president of Concerned Black Clergy, called McKinney competent, courageous and committed.
“She has our support unconditionally,” Elligan said. “She is not a threat to the security of our country.”