The FBI admits that Hodgkinson:
•vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums,
•had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress,
•was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria,
•had mapped out a trip to the DC area,
•took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security,
•lived out of his van at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up,
•legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,”
•modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock,
•rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components,
asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans,
ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting,
and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
•We know from other reporting that the list was of six Republican Freedom Caucus members, including Rep. Mo Brooks, who was present at the practice.
So what does the FBI decide this information means? Well, the takeaway of the briefing was characterized well by the Associated Press headline about it: “FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mind.”
If they don’t want to call it terrorism because it was an attempted political assassination, then fine, but this is insane. If they want to continue to drain away the last vestiges of confidence in their competence, this is the way to do it.
[Update Friday morning]
There’s no reason to beat around the bush here: what the FBI is claiming is mind-boggling when they claim the shooter had no target in mind. Consider the number of accidents of circumstance you would have to believe were going on here to not have the shooter doing what seems obvious from every piece of evidence we have: researching and planning for an attack on Republicans of some kind, particularly looking for an opportunity when security will be low and vulnerability will be high. This was an attack, not an “anger management” problem.
Step back, though, and think on the institutional conclusions here. Considering how ludicrous the FBI’s conclusions are as it relates to an attack on the third ranking member of the House of Representatives, you might reconsider whether to trust the FBI’s conclusions in other areas, as well. And this is how our faith in institutions is degraded: steadily, gradually, with incident after incident where men in suits stand in front of microphones and make claims we know are not the whole truth.
This is how you get more Trump. Despite the fact that Trump doesn’t seem inclined to do anything about it.
[Update a couple minutes later]
Related: Hey, Trump, how about firing Avner Shapiro? Your administration is full of people sabotaging your agenda. What are you going to do about it?