A conservative watchdog group has sent Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, for criminal prosecution after he was caught on tape pulling a fire alarm inside a House of Representatives facility last weekend during tense talks to avoid a government shutdown.
According to the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, Bowman violated federal and local laws shortly after House Republicans declared their intention to hurry a stopgap spending package known as a continuing resolution (CR) to the House floor on Saturday. Some Democrats were taken aback, claiming they didn’t have time to thoroughly read it.
In a letter obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital, Heritage claims Bowman’s list of potential criminal violations includes a federal obstruction statute, which has been used by the Justice Department to prosecute alleged rioters who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and calls for prison time of up to five years.
“Rep. Bowman’s actions violated federal law in addition to D.C. criminal law. The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigations have made ample use of similar legal theories recently to investigate and prosecute individuals across the country,” the letter states.
It was addressed to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the leaders of the US Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Departments on Thursday.
“Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavours to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress…shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years,” the federal statute states.
The D.C. codes that Heritage claims Bowman violated state that it is a misdemeanour “for any person or persons to willfully or knowingly give a false alarm of fire within the District of Columbia,” and that anyone who “corruptly, or by threats of force, in any way obstructs or impedes or endeavours to obstruct or impede the due administration of justice in any official proceeding” faces at least 3 years in prison.
Mike Howell, president of the Oversight Project, scolded the relevant government organizations for having “come under significant scrutiny from the American public in recent years due to politicization and weaponization against your political adversaries.”
Howell noted that, in an interview aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Oct. 1, Garland stated, “We do not have one rule for Republicans and another rule for Democrats. We don’t have one rule for foes and another for friends. … We have only one rule; and that one rule is that we follow the facts and the law, and we reach the decisions required by the Constitution, and we protect civil liberties.”
“Similarly, at a recent Congressional hearing, Director Wray denied a double standard at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stating, ‘The idea that I’m biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background,’” Howell noted in the letter.
“This case presents an opportunity for course correction. The law should be enforced equally and without regard to political party,” he concluded.
Bowman is being investigated by Capitol Police for the incident, but he has defended himself, stating he made a mistake when attempting to enter a closed door.
“You know, I don’t know why this has gotten so much attention,” Bowman told reporters outside his office Monday. “I was literally just in a rush to go vote, man.”
However, Bowman’s defence was called into question when his office circulated an internal document to Democratic colleagues pushing them to publicly defend him with recommended arguments as Republicans continued to call for his removal from Congress.
“Messaging Guidance: Supporting Congressman Jamaal Bowman After Accidental Fire Alarm,” one proposed talking point in the letter, targeted “Nazi members” of the GOP.
“I believe Congressman Bowman when he says this was an accident,” Bowman’s memo states. “Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else.”
Bowman went on X, formerly Twitter, to state that he did not endorse the memo and that it was a “inappropriate use” of the phrase.
As a result, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-New York, introduced legislation to remove Bowman.
“This is the United States Congress. It’s not a New York City public high school,” Malliotakis said on “Fox & Friends” Monday.
“And, of all people, Jamaal Bowman knows the old fire alarm trick because he was a high school principal. And, quite frankly, when he was the high school principal, there were serious ramifications if a student were to do that … including expulsion.”
Bowman’s supporters, including fellow “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, backed him against expulsion calls.
“They’re filing a motion to expel a member who in a moment of panic was trying to escape a vestibule,” she said of Bowman in a recent interview. “Give me a break.”