Sanborn’s comments came in response to questions from the group’s leading Republican, Republican Robert Aderholt, whose investigation came after a week in which GOP lawmakers repeatedly criticized the FBI for its age-old finding of several years – first reported by POLITICO last week – that the attack must be qualified as “suicide by a cop”.
Lawmakers say the FBI revealed its finding during a private briefing with members of the GOP baseball team in November 2017, but their finding was kept under wraps until Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio ), who was present during the June 14 shooting, grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray about it during a House Intelligence Committee hearing earlier this month. Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about the FBI’s classification of the attack during this hearing.
Asked about Sanborn’s comments, a spokesperson for Wenstrup said the congressman was grateful that the FBI had “largely” addressed his concerns.
“However, we are awaiting specific responses to the June 14 assassination attempt and we look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in the Intelligence Committee to get our questions answered,” he said. added.
Testifying Thursday, Sanborn said if the shooting took place today, the case would likely be classified as domestic terrorism, in part because of a change in the lone wolf actors’ understanding. Since 2016, the FBI has noted an increase in attacks by people with multiple motivations – some ideological, others personal, she said.
“It’s a blend of their ideology, but often very closely associated with a personalized grievance,” Sanborn said. “As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to determine what the motivator really was.”
Until this month, the FBI had said little about the 2017 shooting since its immediate aftermath. Investigators discovered that Hodgkinson, a resident of Ohio, had camped in his van near the baseball field in Alexandria, Va., For weeks. Before opening fire, he approached one of the players, Rep. Jeff Duncan (RS.C.), and asked if the squad was made up of Republicans or Democrats. Investigators found a list of the names of GOP lawmakers in Hodgkinson’s pocket, and social media posts revealed he was aligned with the political left.
A Virginia prosecutor investigating the shooting classified it as a crime of “domestic terrorism” based on state laws. Sanborn pointed out that given the trends that have taken hold since the 2017 shooting, the FBI may classify the Hodgkinson case differently today.
“If that were to happen today,” she said, “we would open this case as a national terrorism case.”