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FIRST ON FOX: For Republican congressmen targeted in the 2017 mass shooting at a congressional baseball practice, the revelation that a man was arrested and charged with attempting to murder Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has sparked fears that the charged political climate could lead to more assassination attempts.
James T. Hodgkinson, a far-left former volunteer on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers in June 2017 as they practiced for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot and critically injured during the attack, requiring surgeries to save his life.
Fresh off a flight from California, police arrested 26-year-old California man Nicholas Roske in the early hours Wednesday after he took a cab to Kavanaugh’s Maryland house with a gun in order to kill the justice, authorities said.
For Republicans who survived the baseball shooting, the alleged attempt to kill Kavanaugh, and the surrounding political climate bring back memories – and fears – of the 2017 attack.
Rep. Steve Scalise delivers remarks during a Republican-led forum on the origins of the COVID-19 virus at the Capitol on June 29, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
“For weeks, Democrat leaders from President Biden’s White House to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer encouraged dangerous protests against Supreme Court justices, including at their homes, to illegally threaten and intimidate them in an attempt to change the outcome of a court decision,” Scalise told Fox News Digital.
“How many more times do we need to see political violence motivated by threatening rhetoric before Democrats stop encouraging and condoning this kind of dangerous behavior?” the Republican whip continued.
“Rather than investigating parents at school board meetings as ‘domestic terrorists,’ President Biden’s Justice Department should look into the actual dangerous violence coming from the radical left that continues to put the lives of people in danger for their political views,” he added.
Sen. Rand Paul speaks at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican who was also present at the 2017 shooting, said the protesters who gather outside of Supreme Court justices’ houses “should be arrested.”
“As a victim of politically motivated violence, I’ve continually spoken out against threats made against our Supreme Court justices and elected officials – something the Biden administration can’t even condemn, let alone acknowledge,” Paul said. “Those who are threatening these justices and disrupting neighborhoods during the dead of night should be arrested.”
Texas Rep. Roger Williams, who was also present at the baseball field that day, told Fox News Digital that every “American should be outraged by this deranged individual attempting to murder a sitting Supreme Court justice.”
Rep. Roger Williams
“His arrest brought flashbacks to that horrific day in 2017 when the Republican baseball team was gunned down by an angry Bernie Sanders supporter,” Williams said. “From someone that experienced this sort of political violence firsthand, these incidents have demonstrated what can happen if we keep treating our political opponents as enemies.”
Williams said he is “deeply concerned that these types of motivated attacks will continue to happen with Senate Majority Leader Schumer telling his supporters that Justice Kavanaugh will ‘pay the price’ if he simply does his job, or with Maxine Waters encouraging people to ‘get more confrontational’ with people that they disagree with politically.”
“Instead of acting swiftly, Nancy Pelosi just adjourned the House for the weekend without providing additional security for sitting Supreme Court justices,” he continued. “I will continue to pray for the country and we must do all that we can to ensure political differences do not lead to violence against our government officials.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, told Fox News Digital on Thursday that there is always a “component” of American society that believes trying to kill political opposition and take other violent political action “is the right thing to do.”
“But I am concerned about what is just going on with the nature of violent acts and especially murderous acts that we’re seeing,” Wenstrup said, adding that “there is something changing in our society and not for the better.”
“And if we aren’t honest with ourselves and we don’t start looking at what is different and why these types of things are taking place, then I don’t think we’re going to solve anything,” the Ohio Republican continued. “We’re not going to solve anything with these laws.”
Wenstrup said he believes there are multiple factors affecting the root of the problem and hopes American “law enforcement is out in front and trying to off any potential threats before they happen.”
Capitol Police Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey assist U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise to his position at second base at the start of the 57th Congressional Baseball Game at National’s Park in Washington, Thursday, June 14, 2018, a year after he was wounded in an assassination attempt. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
The Ohio Republican also said lawmakers who were on the field that fateful June day five years ago do not hold Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., responsible for the actions of his supporter, saying the shooter as well as the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 are “responsible for their own actions.”
Wenstrup also took to the House floor to say that only “by the grace of God were 20 or more of my Republican colleagues and our staff not killed by a crazed terrorist wielding a gun on that baseball field in Alexandria” and that the situation “is not a theoretical exercise for many of us on this side of the aisle.”
“When I reflect on that day, it was not about the weapon. It is about the person – the evil – on the other side of the weapon,” Wenstrup said. “If good men and women with guns, agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, had not been present, that terrorist would easily have assassinated 20 to 30 members of Congress and staff, myself included.”
“Until America is willing to take a long hard look inside ourselves and heal what truly ails us, I fear we are simply doomed to repeat more of the past,” he added.
Houston Keene is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Houston.Keene@Fox.com and on Twitter: @HoustonKeene