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Rep. Scalise, survivors of 2017 baseball shooting call for FBI to review investigation

The Republican lawmakers tied their call to recent pledges by the agency to investigate domestic extremism in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021.Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and more than a dozen other House Republicans are calling on the FBI to review its conclusion about the 2017 congressional baseball shooting that left the GOP leader and several others severely wounded.

In a letter Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Scalise and other Republicans who were on the field during the shooting questioned how the agency concluded that the motivation of the gunman, James Hodgkinson, was “suicide by cop.”

“Prior to opening fire, he even asked if the Members on the field that morning were Republican or Democrat and was assured that the Members were Republicans,” the letter said.

The letter pointed to recent promises by Wray to investigate domestic extremism, which has become a focus after a violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Republicans have responded to calls from Democrats to investigate extremism by pointing to instances of supporters of the left who have acted violently.

"We all agree that violent extremism of any kind must be rooted out and addressed by our law enforcement agencies," the letter states. "But we cannot presume to understand the scope of this issue if our law enforcement agencies do not investigate all instances of extremism, regardless of motivating ideology, with equal vigor."

In calling for a renewed investigation of the 2017 shooting, the letter said FBI officials briefed members of the congressional baseball team in November 2017 about their conclusion.

“Several of us attended this FBI briefing. All of us who were present at the ballfield, as well as those targeted on Hodgkinson’s “list,” write to you today demanding answers and accountability from the FBI,” they wrote.

The letter argued that there’s a need for an internal FBI investigation into the shooting because of the increase in domestic violent extremism. They also suggested that the FBI, under Trump, failed to properly investigate the shooting.

“We fear that the FBI’s inability or unwillingness to fully investigate this shooting as a matter of domestic extremism four years ago leaves a blind spot within the Bureau in fully assessing risks we face today,” they said. “The FBI telling us that James Hodgkinson’s attempt to assassinate dozens of Members of Congress was simply 'suicide by cop' does nothing to alleviate this concern.”

The GOP lawmakers noted that other government agencies and Virginia prosecutors who worked on the case have found “that this was a domestic violent extremism event.”

During a recent hearing Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., told Attorney General Merrick Garland that the shooting should be reclassified as a domestic terror attack. Garland said he didn’t know enough about the original classification but said he promised to raise it with the FBI.

Scalise has recovered from the shooting during which he was shot in the left hip while he was standing at second base. He managed to drag himself into the outfield and was rushed to a hospital in Washington, D.C. where he was initially in critical condition.