Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) recently grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray on why — amid a push by Democrats to crack down on “extremism” — the June 14, 2017, shooting of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) that targeted Republicans was never classified as “domestic violent extremism” despite other government agencies doing so.
Wenstrup recalled at a House Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday what he remembered from that morning as Republican members of Congress practiced for the upcoming annual congressional softball game.
“The attacker was living in his van near the baseball field, along the third baseline for two months. We know from his social media post that he hated republicans and he hated President Trump. He loved Bernie Sanders and he held left-wing beliefs. We know he carried in his pocket that day a target list with names of Republican congressmen in his pocket that included their physical descriptions,” he said.
“Before carrying out his attack, we know that the attacker asked Congressman Jeff Duncan, who was leaving practice early, if those present on the field were Republicans or Democrats. He was told they were Republicans. We know that he was heavily armed. He had a rifle and a handgun and plenty of ammunition and he used them all. We were later told that 136 rounds were fired that morning,” he recalled.
Wenstrup said if Scalise was not there that day, along with his plainclothes Capitol Police detail, it is likely they would have all been massacred.
“By the grace of God, Steve Scalise was there that day and he took a bullet for all of us and he barely survived. If Majority Whip Steve Scalise wasn’t there, then Capitol Police are not there to save our lives,” he said.
“Without the police being there and bravely responding, this insurrection would have been a massacre. Trapped in a field, would have been 20 to 30 Republicans assassinated and the attacker may have believed that he could change the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives in one morning,” he said.
Wenstrup said none of the GOP members there that day were ever called in as witnesses by the FBI and that they were shocked the FBI, under then-FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, concluded the case was an attacker seeking suicide by cop — even though the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence labeled it as a domestic violent extremism event.
“The FBI still has not and my colleagues across the aisle don’t seem concerned about this particular event. It could have been a massacre,” he said. “It’s my first-hand opinion that this was an attempt at assassination of many Republican members of Congress.”
Wenstrup said he is formally requesting the FBI to investigate the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and why the FBI deemed it as suicide by cop.
“I grew up watching a TV show called FBI with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. I adored the FBI. I trusted the FBI,” he said, telling Wray that when he took over, he was hopeful he would bring about change in the FBI and establish trust with the American people. “Instead, I’m concerned that things have further degraded,” he said.
Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS), who was also there at the shooting, emphasized that he was nearly killed that day — shot at by the gunman from only 25 feet away and only saved by the bullet hitting a chain-link fence.
“A guy shot at me with an SKS and it hit a chain-link fence, is the only reason it didn’t sink in my chest and kill me. And I will tell you that no FBI agent ever talked to me before, during, or after the investigation. And that was never more than 50 yards away.
“And I can tell you, it was a political assassination. It was not–it was an act of terror. And I’ve seen that downrange, too. It was not a suicide by cop. And I would really wish you guys would follow up and clean that up because it matters to me,” he said.