A former Trump official is reportedly in critical condition after being shot during an attempted carjacking in Washington on Monday evening. Mike Gill was waiting to pick up his wife when a man shot him and then fled on foot. The carjacker allegedly went on a rampage, killing Alberto Vasquez Jr. after taking his car keys, stealing two more cars and then firing a gun at a police officer before he was finally shot and killed.
Carjackings have become a serious problem around the country, but especially in the nation’s capital. Last year, carjackings doubled, reaching a shocking 959 reported incidents. Public officials have said that most of the carjackings in DC are committed by repeat teenage offenders. On Tuesday night, multiple DC officials appeared on a panel moderated by Councilman Charles Allen to discuss why this is happening. As I’ve previously written in this newsletter, Allen is one of the chief individuals responsible for DC’s soft-on-crime approach to policing: he wrote the bill that allows the worst offenders (rapists, murderers, etc.) to get out of prison in fifteen years so long as they were under the age of twenty-five when they committed their crime, and wrote the updated DC criminal code that was considered so heinous Congress stepped in to override the bill. As one commenter on a Facebook livestream of the event wrote, “Having Carjack Chuck moderate this forum is like have [sic] OJ Simpson moderate a forum on domestic violence.”
Sure enough, Allen routinely steered the conversation away from any potential solutions to the problem and instead urged the panelists, which included Commander Colin Hall of the Metropolitan Police Department, Attorney General Brian Schwalb, US Attorney Matthew Graves and several community organizers, to focus on the reasons why teenagers were involved in carjackings. They mentioned social media trends, the Covid-19 pandemic, boredom, broken homes, poverty and high truancy rates, but generally positioned themselves as helpless to stop any of these driving factors. There was one voice of reason on the panel: Kevin McGilly, a DC foster parent. McGilly said one of his foster children was arrested for his involvement in a carjacking, but was stunned when he found out police were dropping the charges. He urged the rest of the panel to hold youth accountable for their behavior to “stop the virus” from spreading.
“This is no offense to anyone on this stage, but I reached out to my council member when he was elected, to the attorney general in the fall of 2022 and I warned them,” McGilly said. “I said… ‘This about to explode. We’re going to have to take very significant action.’ With all due respect, exactly what I predicted happened.”
“It’s not being treated as the crisis that it is, and it requires suppression, and I’m sorry, but you’ve got to stop it from spreading before we can fix the underlying problems,” he concluded.
Allen, who is currently facing a recall effort, thanked McGilly for his perspective and quickly ushered the conversation in a different direction.
“We cannot prosecute and arrest our way out of it,” AG Schwalb would later claim.
Although public officials might not be taking DC’s crime problem seriously, prominent residents are increasingly speaking out about their fear of being in the city.
Kathryn Watson, a CBS reporter who owns a home in DC, pointed out that the current crime problem is so scary because anyone can become a victim: “What’s scary about the crime in DC these days is the randomness. You don’t need to be involved in drugs or gangs to get carjacked, shot over road rage, randomly assaulted on the street, caught by a stray bullet. Daytime, nighttime, doesn’t matter. Zero respect for human life.”
It used to be that if you were somewhat vigilant and avoided bad areas, you could keep yourself from being a victim of crime. Now, it seems almost impossible to fully prevent something bad happening to you, short of avoiding the city entirely.
“Absolutely stunning. the middle of Washington in the afternoon. DC crime is out of control,” Punchbowl News founder Jake Sherman wrote in response to news of a Wednesday shooting on Connecticut Avenue.
But if last night’s panel told us anything, it’s that even as DC community members demand answers and accountability for the crime wave in the nation’s capital, officials will continue to eschew responsibility.
On our radar
CARROLL’S CELEBRATION E. Jean Carroll, the writer who was awarded $83.3 million in damages in the Trump defamation trial, in an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, floated spending the money on shopping sprees and lavish vacations. Carroll offered to buy Maddow a penthouse and to take her fishing in France.
RETRIBUTION? President Joe Biden said Tuesday he has decided on a response to the drone strike in Jordan that killed three American soldiers. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby alluded to a “tiered approach” to the situation.
CONGRESSIONAL TRUTHER Congressman Jamaal Bowman said he “regrets” spreading conspiracy theories about 9/11 on a now-defunct blog that he operated through 2014. Bowman’s blog posts questioned the idea that two hijacked planes actually crashed into the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
Cori Bush league
A lawmaker who vocally backs defunding the police is under investigation by the Department of Justice for allegedly misusing funds to pay for her own private security detail — staffed by her husband and longtime friend, a man who claims to be over 100 trillion years old.
Missouri congresswoman Cori Bush confirmed this week that the feds are probing her usage of the Member Representational Allowance and campaign spending on the type of security she wants to deprive non-elected officials of having. It’s also worth noting that her private security team is notoriously antisemitic and conspiratorial.
In addition to paying her security guard-turned husband Cortney Merritts around $75,000 in campaign funds, Bush has also paid her friend, Nathaniel Davis III, over $150,000 for security. Davis, like Bush, believes that he has supernatural abilities and that he can summon tornadoes and conjure fire.
The news of Bush’s problems hit the nation’s Capitol like a ton of bricks. A likely fake job posting for a communications assistant for Bush instantly went viral, and her Republican counterparts have been eager to mock her. Georgia’s Mike Collins shared the job posting, but crossed most of it out and replaced it with claims that Bush is now seeking a “lawyer” to help her “stay out of jail.”
Bush’s fellow Democrats are mostly falling in line behind her. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said that she is entitled to a presumption of innocence, and Representative Rashida Tlaib is attacking Representative Troy Nehls for calling her “loud,” claiming that “this is what we deal with as women of color on a regular basis.”
Looking ahead for Bush, she faces a well-funded primary opponent — ironically, a local prosecutor, Wesley Bell.
GOP advances Mayorkas impeachment
Republicans on the House Committee on Homeland Security voted to move forward with impeachment articles against Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas early this Wednesday.
The committee approved a resolution claiming that Mayorkas’s handling of the southern border constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors, sending it for a vote by the full House.
No cabinet secretary has been impeached in nearly 150 years and some worry that the case against Mayorkas is constitutionally weak. Alan Dershowitz, the legal analyst who taught at Harvard Law for close to fifty years and opposed Trump’s impeachment, wrote for the Hill this Tuesday: “Just because the Democrats were hypocritical when they impeached Trump on non-constitutional grounds does not give Republicans the right to do the same.”
Regardless, Republicans seem determined to move along with the impeachment. Only two members of their slim majority in the House have said that they are leaning toward voting “no” on the resolution. It will then die in the Senate.
Even if the GOP isn’t successful at removing Mayorkas, though, the impeachment effort remains politically brilliant; it keeps the spotlight on this administration’s handling of the border, which remains one of Biden’s biggest weaknesses.
–Juan P. Villasmil