There was really little for the FBI to do here. Hodgkinson's motives were fairly clear. He had a list of names of targets. His social media was filled with rants against Republicans. A witness describes him studying the area of his future attack. According to Rep. DeSantis, he asked if the players were Republicans or Democrats.
This is about as open and shut as anything gets. All the FBi had to do was go through his laptop and phone to confirm that he hadn't been coordinating with anyone else.
Except the FBI instead decided to treat Hodgkinson as if he were a Muslim terrorist. And by that I mean launch into a cover-up of his motives.
First, there was the odd denial of Rep. DeSantis account.
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told CNBC that a man came up to him and Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., at the practice and asked if the players on the field were Republicans or Democrats.Someone from the FBI appeared to deny that. The FBI briefing however includes it. But the briefing is bizarre in that it goes out of its way to deny the facts.
“We both agreed that that individual who came up to us and asked if it was Republicans or Democrats ... is the same individual police have identified," DeSantis said. "That picture is the same guy that we saw.”
The gunman who shot a top House Republican and four other people on a Virginia baseball field didn’t have any concrete plans to inflict violence on the Republicans he loathed, FBI officials said Wednesday.So the working theory here is that Hodgkinson just stocked up on firepower, for no apparent reason, took photos of the baseball field because it was so picturesque, had a list of members of Congress for no apparent reason, and then randomly and spontaneously opened fire while he happened to be carrying a rifle and touring local baseball fields?
They said he acted alone and had no connections to terror groups. But they said they had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why, beyond his animus toward President Donald Trump and the Republicans he felt were ruining the country. It wasn’t even clear whether he had prior plans to attack the baseball practice or whether he just happened upon it the morning of June 14, said Tim Slater, who leads the criminal division of the FBI’s Washington field office.
“At this point in the investigation, it appears more spontaneous,” Slater said.
Hodgkinson had a piece of paper with the names of six members of Congress written on it, Slater said, but the note lacked any further context and there was no evidence from his computer, phone or other belongings that indicated he planned to target those officials. Slater declined to name the officials whose names were on the note or say whether they were Republicans or Democrats or were at the baseball practice.
In April, Hogkinson made the tourist rounds in Washington, visiting monuments, museums, the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office Building and taking pictures, the FBI said. He also took pictures of the baseball field where he would later fire more than 60 shots.
“The FBI does not believe that these photographs represented surveillance of intended targets,” the FBI said in a statement.
That hit list? It's just a piece of paper.
Timothy Slater, special agent in charge of the criminal division for the Washington field office, would not classify it as a hit list, saying it was only "a piece of paper."It just happened to be a piece of paper in his weapons locker.
"If you look at his pattern of life and what he was doing on his laptop and social media accounts, there was no indication that that was a list to target or that there were any threats associated with those names on the list," Slater said.
Authorities found the list in a storage locker Hodgkinson had rented in Alexandria, Virgina, since April. Inside, they also found 200 rounds of ammunition, a laptop, a receipt from a gun purchase in November 2016 and SKS rifle componentsJust a piece of paper.
That morning, Hodgkinson used Google Maps to search for a route from Alexandria to his home in Belleville. He also ran a Google search for the "2017 Republican Convention,"Spontaneous. The official FBI release whitewashes his social media postings.
Items found on Hodgkinson included a piece of paper that contained the names of six members of Congress. No context was included on this paper, however, a review of Hodgkinson’s web searches in the months prior to the shooting revealed only a cursory search of two of those members of Congress. A second document with a rough sketch of several streets in Washington, D.C. was found on Hodgkinson; however, it was not deemed to be of investigative significance.Not much seems to be. Also there seems to be a discrepancy here as to whether the list was on him or in his locker.
Analysis of the electronic media items recovered from Hodgkinson’s belongings assessed that Hodgkinson did not place any online posts of threats or references to members of Congress or the Congressional baseball game. Hodgkinson made numerous posts on all of his social media accounts espousing anti-Republican views, although all the posts reviewed thus far appear to be First Amendment-protected speech.The First Amendment protects the speech of living people. It doesn't conflict with establishing motive.
The FBI emphasizes that he didn't threaten violence against members of Congress. But he clearly hated his targets. He had googled them at one point. And his social media included an attack on the man he shot. That's the sort of thing that adds up to motive. Unless you're desperately whitewashing the investigation to make it seem like this was a random act by an unstable man with financial problems.
It's almost like Jimmy's a Muslim terrorist. Usually they're the ones to benefit from this treatment.
“He was running out of money. He was not employed at the time of the event, and he was looking for some local employment. He was married for 30 years, and it appears that that marriage was not going so well,” Slater said. “It was just a pattern of life where you could tell things were not going well.”Much like the FBI investigation.