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D.C. Memo: Angie Craig attacked, suspect arrested

Plus: House GOP steps up investigations on Twitter, Biden mining policies, “weaponization” of federal government.

Rep. Angie Craig shown speaking during a July 2022 news conference.
Rep. Angie Craig shown speaking during a July 2022 news conference.
REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

WASHINGTON – The D.C. Metropolitan Police said late Thursday that they have arrested a suspect in the assault of Rep. Angie Craig, who was  punched in the face and grabbed by the neck in the elevator of her apartment building in Washington, D.C., that morning.

The suspect was identified as 26-year-old Kendrick Hamlin, also known as Hamlin Khalil Hamlin,  who was charged with simple assault.

The police said Craig defended herself by throwing hot coffee at her attacker.  The Democratic congresswoman’s chief of staff, Nick Coe, said Craig suffered bruising “but is otherwise physically okay.”

Coe also said that Craig called 911 and the assailant fled the scene. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department responded to that call, but the assailant had already fled.

“There is no evidence that the incident is politically motivated,” Coe said.

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Nevertheless, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he has ordered U.S. Capitol Police to help protect Craig, and her wife and sons, when they are in Washington, D.C., and at home in Minnesota. Craig represents the 2nd Congressional District and lives in Prior Lake.

“The House Democratic Caucus family is horrified by the violent attack on Rep. Angie Craig in her own apartment building early this morning,” Jeffries said. “We are all very grateful that she is safe and recovering, but appalled that this terrifying assault took place.”

He also said Craig’s colleagues “will be there for Angie in any way that she needs in the aftermath of this very difficult situation.”

The Metropolitan Police report said the alleged assailant had been loitering in the lobby area of Craig’s D.C. apartment building, “acting erratic as if he was under the influence of an unknown substance.”

Craig told investigators her assailant then entered the elevator with her and after the lawmaker greeted him “good morning” he began “to randomly do pushups” before punching Craig in the chin and grabbing her neck the report said.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Metropolitan Police had circulated a release seeking the public’s assistance in identifying Craig’s alleged assailant and locating him.

Surveillance camera shots of who police were calling “the suspect,” were included, as well as a reminder that reward of up to $1,000 could go to anyone who provided information that led to the arrest and indictment of the person  responsible for the crime.

House Republicans ramp up investigative hearings

Hyper-partisanship here was on the rise this week as some of President Biden’s lines in his State of the Union speech provoked raucous responses n angry response from GOP lawmakers and House Republicans picked up the pace of hearings targeting the president and his administration.

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The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday summoned former Twitter executives to answer to accusations that the social media platform censored voices on the right before it was purchased by Elon Musk.

Twitter’s blocking an unsubstantiated New York Post story based on a laptop the tabloid said was owned by Hunter Biden, the president’s son. The story was about Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine before the 2020 election.

Twitter’s former chief executive, Jack Dorsey, had already told Congress his company was wrong to block the article. Former executives testifying Wednesday repeated that the company should not have done so. But they said the ban was not based on political considerations but concerns about foreign – and especially Russian – disinformation.

The former Twitter executives also cited incidents where former President Trump and his campaign asked the platform to delete and block posts.

Nevertheless, Republicans on the committee continued to press the witnesses, unsuccessfully, for evidence that the government, and especially the FBI, colluded with Twitter to suppress conservative views.

Democrats on the committee accused the GOP trying to create a false scandal rather than focusing on issues that matter to voters. But the GOP is unlikely to stop holding hearings into what it views are federal attacks on conservatives, investigations they have promised their supporters.

On Thursday, a new panel to probe the “weaponization” of the federal government, led by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, held its first hearing.

The committee’s task is to examine claims that the Justice Department, the FBI and other federal agencies are biased against conservatives. House Republicans say federal authorities mishandled allegations against former President Trump, and abused its surveillance powers.

“I have never seen anything like this, dozens and dozens of whistleblowers, FBI agents, coming to us to say what’s going on, the political nature of the Justice Department,” Jordan said.

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House GOP focuses on mining

Also on Thursday, another GOP-led panel, the House Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing that touched on local concerns – mining in northern Minnesota.

Committee members, including Rep. Pete Stauber, R-8th District, criticized the Biden administration for slow permitting and for placing federal lands off limits to mining, including a recent decision to put a 20-year moratorium on more than 225,000 acres in the Superior National Forest to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Jason George, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, which has 15,000 members, mostly in Minnesota, was among the witnesses at hearing on U.S. dependence on “foreign adversaries” for critical metals.

George said the mining moratorium in the Superior National Forest, which blocks a proposed Twin Metals copper, cobalt and nickel mine, was promoted by “wealthy tourists, businesses who outfit their needs and anti-development extremists,” at the expense of Minnesotans who could benefit from new mining jobs.

‘The decision had nothing to do with science and everything to do with Democratic policies, in my opinion, George said.

But Democrats on the panel, and their sole witness, said digging new mines would not solve the scarcity of metals needed in the United States and other countries to move toward a green economies with the development of electric cars and green energy.

They proposed other ways of solving the problem, including increased battery recycling and for multinational mining companies, including those based in the United States, to insist subsidiaries in countries that use child labor and commit other labor abuses press for better human rights.

“We cannot mine and permit out way out of this problem,” said Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-New Mexico.

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But it wasn’t all partisan fighting in Washington, D.C. this week. The House on Thursday voted unanimously, 419-0 for a resolution that condemned China for launching a spy balloon that floated across the United States before being shot down by U.S. forces off the coast of South Carolina.

The incident has intensified tensions between Washington and Beijing.

 Journos, lawmakers break bread – at least for one night

Another bipartisan event was the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 77th annual congressional dinner held Wednesday night at the Waldorf Astoria (formally the Trump International Hotel.)

The benefit brings lawmakers and the members of the press together – this reporter’s guest was Rep. Betty McCollum, D-4th District – in an off-the-record effort to foster better relations, or at least get to know each other better.

Other Minnesota lawmakers spotted at the event included Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th District, a guest of The Guardian, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a guest of USA Today. The Wall Street Journal invited Rep. Angie Craig, D-2nd District.

There were plenty of Republicans there, too. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, was seen laughing at Rep. Nancy Mace’s joke alluding to the Jan. 6 attacks.

“I know everyone thinks Republicans aren’t funny. But if you get a bunch of us together, we can be a real riot,” said Rep. Nancy Mace, R-South Carolina.

The other headliner was Sen. Rafael Warnock, D-Georgia, whose election victory gave Democrats a 51-seat majority in the Senate.

“There’s one man … who prayed harder than anybody else for my victories, Chuck Schumer,” Warnock joked about the Senate Majority Leader.  “In fact, I think that Senator Schumer would have prayed the rosary while facing Mecca if he thought it would turn out more voters in the Atlanta suburbs.”