One widespread point of agreement in Congress after Wednesday’s baseball practice shooting was that the toll would have been much worse had Republican Whip Steve Scalise’s security detail not been at the playing field.
Top congressional leaders are protected around the clock by the Capitol Police, a practice that was bolstered after several incidents, including a 1998 shooting at the Capitol and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
But now, in today’s intensely polarized political environment, more members want to reconsider their own security needs.
The gunman who attacked congressmen at a ball field in a Washington suburb was a “very irascible, angry little man” with a history of charges for assault and other minor offenses, according to his former lawyer.
Lyndon Evanko, a now-retired attorney from Belleville, Ill., said he remembered James T. Hodginkson, a former home inspector and contractor, for his temper and brusque attitude toward police and neighbors.
Hodgkinson, 66, was shot and killed on Wednesday after he opened fire on Republican congressmen, staffers and others at a morning baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee met behind closed doors Wednesday with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel heading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Sens. Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.), the committee chair, and Mark R. Warner of Virginia, the panel's ranking Democrat, issued a statement after the meeting calling it "constructive."
"We look forward to future engagements,” they said.
The gunman who attacked a congressional baseball practice in Virginia on Wednesday, wounding five, has been identified as a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter and campaign volunteer who had long expressed his hatred for Republicans on social media. He was pronounced dead shortly after the attack.
James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., had repeatedly likened the GOP to “a group of terrorists” in hyperbolic posts dating back to at least 2014.
Hodgkinson was a home inspector in downstate Illinois and a Democratic supporter who had written multiple letters to the editor of the Belleville News-Democrat in 2012, often opposing Republicans or supporting marijuana legalization.
The Senate passed by a vote of 97-2 a measure to toughen sanctions on Russia, a rare bipartisan move intended to respond to various aggressions by Russia against the U.S.
The measure, attached as an amendment to a broader bill dealing with Iran, firms up existing sanctions against Russia and imposes new ones.
Among those targeted are a wide array of what senators called "corrupt Russian actors," including those engaged in hacking, seizure of state resources, human rights abuses and supplying arms to the Syrian regime.
The president's Secret Service detail is a constant and visible reminder that even though the possibility of an assassination may often be out of sight, it is never out of mind.
For most members of Congress, the threat of a personal attack is less visible. They're offered protection when they're on the Capitol grounds, but don't receive extra security elsewhere.
No police were present when then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot and seriously injured while meeting with constituents in a supermarket parking lot outside Tucson in 2011. In fact, that's often the case at such congressional meet-and-greet events around the country.
Kendra Newman was sipping her morning coffee, listening to the birds in the trees, and admiring the freshly mowed lawn behind her red brick row house when the pop of gunfire rang out -- slow and deliberate at first, then all at once.
"It was rapid and kept going and going and going," she said. "It was clear that something was terribly wrong."
Fearing it may be gunfire, Newman, 35, shooed her two dogs inside and ducked for cover while her fiance punched 911 into his cellphone. Within a minute or so, blaring police sirens resounded throughout the sleepy neighborhood of Del Ray in Alexandria, Va.
Rep. Tim Ryan, who plays shortstop on the Democratic congressional baseball team, had a chilling thought as he and other players huddled in the dugout at Gallaudet University in northeastern D.C. awaiting word of when they could safely leave the field.
At first, "we didn't know a whole lot other than a handful of people were hit," the Ohio Democrat said in an interview.
Ryan said as they sheltered, players learned that GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise had been shot, and that it was Scalise's protective detail that stopped the shooter. Ryan said his thoughts immediately went to the lone Capitol Police officer who parks in the lot near the field during practices.