Politicians Come Together, At Least Briefly, After Shooter Attacks Republicans While They Practice Baseball
A 66-year old unemployed home inspector from Illinois shot at a bunch of Republican congressmen, who were practicing for a charity baseball game against Democrats. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was seriously hurt after being shot in the hip, and is still in critical condition. 3 other people were shot. 2 more were injured. The shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, was captured after a gun battle with police, and later died.
Two Capitol police officers assigned to Scalise’s security detail were credited with quickly engaging the shooter, preventing the situation from ending up a lot worse. Most members of congress do not have personal security details, but because the Majority Whip is a leadership position, Scalise does.
The Washington Post posted a cell phone video of the attack and gun battle (mostly audio since you can’t see very much.) We are sharing it below because it demonstrates the sudden, random nature of the shootings. Still, be aware it’s disturbing if you choose to watch:
President Trump praised Representative Scalise, who’s from Louisiana, on Twitter, and delivered a message of unity, saying “We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said Hodgkinson was a volunteer in Iowa on his 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. The Washington Post quotes a Sanders aide saying he had no formal role and no one could remember him. Sanders denounced the shooting, saying on the Senate floor that he was “sickened by this despicable act.”
Attempts to politicize the shooting were by-and-large battled back from both sides, at least in the immediate aftermath. (So we won’t repeat any of the few disgusting assertions here, including those by a Presidential son, and a former Speaker of the House who seems intent on starting a civil war.)
Aside from the fact that we were pleasantly surprised that things like charity baseball games between Republicans and Democrats still exist in this political climate (the game will be played tonight, as scheduled), we feel it’s way too soon to say too much more. We are encouraged to see politicians being supportive of each other and behaving appropriately. We also believe this story will likely grow larger and more contentious as the shock wears off, and people get angry.
Angry Tweets From Trump This Morning Slam, But Do Not Deny, Reports He’s Now Under Investigation For Obstruction of Justice
The Washington Post late last night reporting Special Counsel Robert Mueller is widening his investigation to include whether President Trump might’ve attempted to obstruct justice. The Wall Street Journal this morning reporting the same.
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
In a second Tweet, a few minutes later, he made it personal:
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
Trump’s lawyer had already responded, saying “The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.” First, we don’t really know if the leak came from the FBI. Also, the one thing the statement doesn’t answer is whether it’s true. It’s the closest thing to a Watergate-style non-denial denial we’ve seen in a long time.
The White House recently said: “While the President has every right to [fire Robert Mueller], he has no intention to. That comment coming after a self-labeled Trump “buddy” said the President was thinking about firing Mueller.
Wired has a really great story (a must-read in our opinion), profiling the brains and brawn that make up what it calls Mueller’s “Dream Team.” Let’s hope the President doesn’t read it all the way through…
Senate Squeezes Russia; Makes Sure Trump Can’t Easily Un-Squeeze
The Senate just approved new and tighter sanctions on Russia. But the move has as much to do with preventing President Trump from eliminating or loosening them.
The bipartisan measure passed 97-2, a surprising margin in this day and age. Only Republicans Rand Paul, from Kentucky, and Mike Lee, from Utah, voted against.
The agreement adds penalties for Russia’s interference in U.S. elections, and also requires congressional approval if the President tries to end or ease the sanctions.
Well, Trump could simply veto it, couldn’t he? They thought of that too: rather than introduce it as a separate bill, they are tacking it on to an existing one that imposes harsher penalties on Iran. So in order to back off Russia, Trump would also have to reject a more hard-line stance against Iran.
Most Serious Criminal Charges Yet In Flint Water Crisis
The State of Michigan charging state Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon with involuntary manslaughter, a felony. The charge is not directly related to the much publicized issue of lead in Flint’s water. Instead, it’s about outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease after the city’s water supply was switched over to the Flint River. A dozen people died. Lyon is accused of failing to notify the public about Legionnaire’s until a year after he knew it was a risk. According to court documents he explained himself by saying “everybody has to die of something.”
The Detroit Free Press asks if Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation will reach as high as Republican Governor Rick Snyder. Schuette’s answer was rather cryptic, saying “while investigators have been unsuccessful in interviewing the governor, there are also no charges pending at the moment.”
A Very Weird Confirmation Hearing For A Trump Federal Appeals Court Appointee
And one we had a lot of trouble finding much coverage of anyplace. John Bush, who is variously also referred to in the media as “Kenneth Bush” and “John K. Bush” was found to have written several hundred right-wing blog posts under yet another name: “G. Morris.” According to Buzzfeed, “G. Morris” wrote of Hillary Clinton’s campaign: “The Democrats are trying to win with the same game plan as in 2008, only substitute woman for Black.” Politico writes at some length about Bush, but also says he isn’t the only Trump nominee with “strange civil rights views.” At the hearing, Bush claimed he “will not bring politics to the bench.” Of course, if voting is along party lines, he will be confirmed.
Open Hearing Set For Next Week With Obama Homeland Security Chief
Jeh Johnson, the former Homeland Security Director under Obama, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee next Wednesday starting at 10 AM EDT, according to the Committee’s own website. In what will certainly be a highly politicized appearance, Johnson is expected to address what the Obama administration knew about Russian interference with the U.S. Presidential election, when it knew that information, and whether it should’ve more actively fought back or made the public more aware of it.
It’s Because It’s His Birthday…!
If you happened to check out Trump’s Twitter feed and noticed balloons all over it, it wasn’t because the President was feeling particularly festive, nor some oddball hack. June 14th is the President’s birthday. And that’s what Twitter does on your birthday. He’s 71.