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National Govt & Politics
Top FBI official says agency 'clearly should have done more' on Parkland shooter
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Top FBI official says agency 'clearly should have done more' on Parkland shooter

Top FBI official says agency 'clearly should have done more' on Parkland shooter
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Top FBI official says agency 'clearly should have done more' on Parkland shooter

As students demonstrated around the nation Wednesday over gun violence, a top FBI official acknowledged to Congress that serious mistakes were made in not acting on tips about the gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school a month ago, as Congress prepared to take some of the first legislative steps in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"We made mistakes here, no question about that," said FBI Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich, when asked about why tips to an FBI hotline didn't spark action.

"That said, even had we done everything right, I'm not sure we could have stopped this act," Bowdich told a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "But it would have been nice to try."

Senators asked Bowdich about tips concerning accused shooter Nikolas Cruz on both September 25, 2017, and a "very explicit" tip from January 5, 2018.

"With regard to Parkland, do you agree that the FBI committed serious, grave errors?" asked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

"Yes, I do," Bowdich answered, as he indicated that so far, no FBI employees have been disciplined over the lack of action on the tips against the Florida shooter.

"Do I think we could have changed the course of the outcome here? I don't know," Bowdich said at one point.

The questions and answers about the shooting went on as hundreds of school students massed on Capitol Hill, part of the protests to mark one month since the Parkland, Florida shooting.

While there were calls for action by both parties, the same political differences were on display again on Wednesday.

"I know the politics here," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who again championed the idea of stricter "universal background checks" on all gun purchases, as well as a ban on certain assault weapons.

"You're not going to stop these massacres until you get at these two common sense things that I have suggested," Nelson added.

"While increased funding for mental health programs and school security will no doubt have positive effects, mass shootings will not stop until we rid society of the weapons that make them possible," said Katherine Posada, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who described the terror of the February 14 shooting.

One father urged Congress not to let the opportunity go by to find bipartisan agreement on how to secure schools.

"Follow the lead of what has been accomplished in Florida. Build on common ground," said Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the Florida shooting.

"This Congress cannot continue to do nothing," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Meanwhile, the House voted 407 to 10 to approve a bipartisan bill to funnel $75 million in grant money to help schools better recognize red flags about students who might be prone to commit violence.

"We need to give students, teachers, and law enforcement, the tools and the training they need," said Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), a former sheriff in Jacksonville, Florida.

"I know that this does not go far enough in terms of what we need to do," said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). "But it is an important step, a bipartisan step."

While approval was expected in the House, the "STOP School Violence" bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, along with other measures dealing with gun violence, as lawmakers search for elusive common ground on the best way to deal with school shootings.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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Washington Insider

  • Apart from a few GOP voices in the U.S. House and Senate, most Republican lawmakers in Congress had little to say in recent days about President Donald Trump's continuing attacks on the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as the President used a speech in Ohio on Wednesday to launch an extended series of jabs as the former POW. 'I have to be honest - I've never liked him much,' Mr. Trump said at a speech at a tank production plant in Lima, Ohio. With Congress on break this week, many Republicans stayed away from the tide of remarks by the President, as only a handful of GOP officials stood up to tell Mr. Trump to back off, and leave the dead U.S. Senator alone. 'It’s deplorable what he said,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said of President Trump in a Wednesday radio interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting.  “That’s what I called it from the floor of the Senate seven months ago. It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out,' said Isakson, who has been one of McCain's few public defenders in the GOP to push back directly at Mr. Trump. 'John McCain is an American hero and I am thankful for his life of service and legacy to our country and Arizona,' said Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who now holds his seat in Congress - though McSally did not directly mention the President in her statement. But Rep. Peter King R-NY, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) were outliers, as some supporters said the President was needlessly picking a fight - with a dead man - which he will never win. 'President 0. Dead Man 1,' wrote conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson. 'Let's be a little less coo-coo,' said Anthony Scaramucci on CNN Thursday morning, who served in the White House for a very short period of time in 2017, but remains a strong supporter of the President. Here's the President's full remarks about McCain from the Wednesday event: In a late night email sent to reporters on Wednesday, the McCain Institute pushed back - without mentioning the President by name - as the group defended the late GOP Senator, and one time Republican nominee for President in 2008. 'John McCain was held for 5 years in a Vietnamese prison and brutally tortured,' the group wrote, offering a laundry list of supportive items from his resume in the military and in Congress. 'John McCain always called on America to stand up for its values of freedom and democracy,' the group added, as even in death, McCain was still embroiled in battles with President Trump.