Former President Donald Trump on Sunday called on Rep. Jamal Bowman to “suffer” like the Capitol rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, after lawmakers sounded fire alarms at U.S. congressional office buildings. A deal is being sought to provide funding to the federal government to avoid a shutdown.
The incident occurred Saturday in the Cannon Building, the oldest congressional office building in Washington, D.C., where Bowman’s office is located, as the House worked frantically to pass a stopgap appropriations bill and avert a government shutdown. Bowman, a Democrat who has represented New York’s 16th District since 2021, sounded a fire alarm near one of the building’s exits, prompting an evacuation.
After the incident, Bowman claimed he sounded the fire alarm out of confusion while trying to open a nearby exit door to get to the House floor.
“Today, as I was rushing to vote, I came to a door that is normally open for voting but could not be opened today,” the MP said in a statement. “I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm. , in the mistaken belief that it would open the door. I want to be very clear that this is not me, by any means, trying to delay any vote.”
However, many Republicans have come forward calling for Bowman’s punishment, which could range from an ethics investigation to expulsion from the House to arrest. Trump took to his Truth social platform to call on the congressman to “suffer” like the Jan. 6 rioters, echoing controversial claims from other Republicans about Bowman’s intentions.
“Will Congressman Jamal Bowman be prosecuted and imprisoned for his very dangerous action of pulling and tripping a major fire alarm system to prevent an ongoing congressional vote in Washington,” Trump wrote. “His egregious behavior was captured on tape Come on, this is horribly psychotic and criminal behavior. This is a very dangerous form of ‘obstruction of official proceedings’ like the one used against our J-6 inmate. In reality, his behavior could have been much worse. He must suffer the same fate. When will his trial begin???”
Trump’s post referred to one of the charges, obstruction of an official proceeding, that many of the Jan. 6 rioters have been charged and convicted of after pleading guilty to trying to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Trump and other Republicans have often claimed that the rioters were treated unfairly, both in terms of the seriousness of the charges and conditions in jails, but opponents have strongly disputed this.
Weekly newspaper Bowman’s office was contacted via email for comment.
Meanwhile, subsequent images of signage surrounding the exit doors prompted some to sympathize with Bowman’s alleged confusion, while others said the explanation was insufficient. Republicans accused members of Congress of trying to delay the appropriations bill voting process and give Democrats more time to complete the bill, although only Cannon Tower and not the main Capitol building, where the vote was held, was affected.
A still image of Bowman pulling the fire alarm has circulated, but a full security video that could more fully illuminate his thought process and actions has not.
In an article published Sunday, Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz dismissed attempts by Trump and other prominent right-wing figures to compare Bowman to the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, saying “Ridiculous” and trying to distract House Speaker Kevin. McCarthy tried to pass a long-term financing bill but ran into trouble. The Media Matters article also cited past examples of lawmakers getting into trouble with Capitol Hill doors, noting that Cannon Building doors are locked and alarmed on weekends, which could further trip up Bowman.
“Right-wing media influencers and pundits sought over the weekend to refocus public attention on a Democratic congressman who sounded the fire alarm in a House office building during a vote,” Gertz wrote.
He added: “They accuse [Bowman] Compare his actions to those of participants in the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as part of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election to remain in power. The moral bankruptcy of this comparison is a feature, not a flaw, that helps draw more attention to the right’s claims and, therefore, away from McCarthy’s failures. “