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GOP Lawmaker: Donald Trump's Rhetoric, Actions "Partially To Blame" For Ballfield Shooting

President Trump shares some of the responsibility for the highly charged political climate that may have led to Wednesday morning’s shooting, which injured a lawmaker and four other people, a Republican congressman suggested.

“I would argue the president has unleashed, partially, again not in anyway totally, but partially to blame for the demons that have been unleashed,” South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. According to The Hill, he cited Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail last year, when the candidate sometimes encouraged his supporters to confront protesters at rallies. After one demonstrator interrupted his speech, Trump declared: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Sanford described the comment as “bizarre,” adding: “We ought to call it as such. They’ll say, ‘If the guy at the top can say anything to anybody any time, why can’t I?’”

The congressman described the somber mood on Capitol Hill following the shooting, which he said caused “heavy soul-searching” among members of Congress. Rep. Steve Scalise, who as majority whip is the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, was still in critical condition Thursday morning. He required surgery for a bullet wound in his hip. Two Capitol Hill police officers, a congressional staffer and a lobbyist also received hospital treatment.

The shooting, at a ballfield in Alexandria, Virginia, occurred while Republican lawmakers were practicing for the annual congressional baseball game between GOP and Democratic politicians. The event, scheduled for Thursday, raises money for charity and also reportedly promotes friendlier relations between the rival parties.

Officers shot the assailant, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Illinois, who later died. According to CNN, emergency medical personnel transported six people to hospitals. “Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip,” MedStar Washington Hospital Center explained in a written statement. “The bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs and causing severe bleeding. He underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations. We will provide periodic updates.”

Zach Barth, a congressional aide who suffered a gunshot wound in his leg, was treated and released. Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika was in critical condition following surgery. The other victims were Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey. MedStar reported that Griner was listed in “good condition in the hospital having been shot in the ankle,” while Bailey “was treated and released having sustained a minor injury during the incident.”

Wednesday evening, the president visited Scalise and Griner at the hospital. Trump sat beside the congressman and talked with members of his family, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters. He also met with Griner and her wife, and spoke with the victims’ doctors. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, was at MedStar, as well. The lawmaker, for whom Barth works, sustained a minor leg injury during the chaos on the baseball field. Williams and others scrambled into a dugout to escape the bullets.

Source: The Hill
Photo: MSNBC Screenshot

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