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April 6, 2006
Grand Jury To Decide McKinney's Fate (Update & Bump)

Prosecutors investigating the assault by Rep. Cynthia McKinney on a Capitol Police officer last week have decided to present the case to a grand jury to determine whether an indictment is warranted, CNN reported last night:

No more he-grabbed-she-slapped -- whether U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney should be charged over a confrontation with Capitol Police last week will be decided by a grand jury, perhaps as soon as next week, said federal law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

Prosecutors have decided to present the case, and the grand jury will begin hearing testimony Thursday, the two sources said.

Senior congressional sources said that two House staff members -- Troy Phillips, an aide to Rep. Sam Farr, D-California, and Lisa Subrize, executive assistant to Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Michigan -- have been subpoenaed to testify.

The Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, which is handling the case, refused to comment.

This may represent a bit of a punt on the part of the prosecutors, who already have a complaint and eyewitnesses that apparently substantiate the story. Under normal circumstances, they would have skipped a grand jury and simply filed charges against the offender. However, with McKinney screaming racism and her peers in Congress oddly silent, the prosecutors have made the politically wise choice to defer the decision to a grand jury. Given the evidence already in hand, chances are very low that the grand jury will find that the prosecutors don't have a case for indictment, let alone conviction.

This should allow the embarrassment of the Democrats to simmer for a while longer. No coordinated effort has been made to support McKinney's charges of racism in the security details that protect Congress. A paltry few have repeated McKinney's assertions, but her party's leadership remains silent -- probably hoping that the entire affair will vanish. Even the Congressional Black Caucus has refused to officially comment on the controversy despite meeting with McKinney yesterday. They probably found ridiculous and embarrassing McKinney's insistence that guards should be trained to recognize the 535 members of Congress, on sight and within the two seconds it takes to breeze past a security checkpoint without identifying themselves.

McKinney's problem is that she has cried wolf one too many times. Most people, even Congresspeople, can figure that between the two choices of a vast conspiracy among Capitol police to humiliate minorities and the foolish and egotistical insistence of one member who repeatedly refuses to adhere to security protocols designed to protect them all from harm, the latter comes closest to reality. The grand jury almost certainly will agree.

UPDATE: Oh, so now she's sorry:

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., expressed "sincere regret" Thursday for her altercation with a Capitol police officer, and offered an apology to the House.

"There should not have been any physical contact in this incident," McKinney said in brief remarks on the House floor. "I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all and I regret its escalation and I apologize."

McKinney's comments came after the case had been referred to a federal grand jury for possible prosecution.

She had previously insisted she had done nothing wrong, and accused police of "racial profiling." She is African-American and the police officer is white.

If that's the complete statement, it falls a little short. She says that the incident should not have resulted in "physical contact," but that became necessary on the part of the police when she refused to stop after blowing through the checkpoint. She should have apologized for striking the officer outright and not hiding behind this weasel-word construction. Nor, do I note, does she apologize for accusing Capitol Hill police of racism and racial profiling. She gave the minimal apology possible to try to get the story off the front pages.

Once again, we have an egotistical blowhard demanding that everyone cater to her whims and smearing people who refuse to submit to her bullying. I suspect that the deafening public silence from the Congressional Black Caucus disguised some pointed advice from them to McKinney to shut the hell up before she undid years of work highlighting real racism in law enforcement.

It shouldn't work, but it probably will; the story will quickly fade unless the grand jury decides to press charges anyway, and at some point we'll hear her colleagues demand that we "move on". I give it three hours.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 6, 2006 1:00 PM

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