President Biden said Friday that that he condemned the previous evening’s attack on Rep. Lee Zeldin during a campaign event “in the strongest terms” as members of both parties in Congress sent good wishes to their GOP colleague.
“As I’ve said before, violence has absolutely no place in our society or our politics,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. “I am especially grateful for the courage of those who immediately intervened, and that he is unharmed and was able to continue his speech. I also want to thank the law enforcement officers who quickly took action and are investigating this attack that defies our fundamental democratic values.”
Zeldin, the Republican nominee to be New York’s next governor, was delivering a speech in Monroe County when 43-year-old David Jakubonis lunged at him with a curved weapon in his right hand.
The assailant also grabbed Zeldin’s arm, repeatedly saying to him, “You’re done.”
Jakubonis was quickly subdued and later charged with a count of second-degree attempted assault — only to be released from custody hours later.
Some Republicans in Congress expressed outrage at the kid-gloves treatment for Jakubonis, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeting: “The New York criminal justice system is completely and dangerously broken. This is the case in Democratic blue states all over the country. Very dangerous.”
“.@LeeZeldin was nearly stabbed last night giving a speech in New York. The perpetrator was charged with a felony but released immediately. Democrat policies are turning our nation into a third-world disaster where there is nothing but crime on the streets,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted.
“Running for public office shouldn’t be dangerous. Following the law & respecting differences of opinion are essential to a free society. I am grateful that no one was seriously hurt. Thanks to the heroic acts of @EspositoforNY & law enforcement for subduing the attacker,” upstate Rep. Claudia Tenney wrote, before ripping into Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“Instead of focusing on protecting our crime ridden communities, Kathy Hochul is busy defunding and demoralizing the police and just today issued an inflammatory press release mocking Lee Zeldin and his supporters,” Tenney said. “We must restore law and order!”
“A crazed leftist attacked @RepLeeZeldin at an event,” added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “The attacker was charged with a felony and IMMEDIATELY released because of New York’s soft on crime policies. Unbelievable.”
Some Republicans and many Democrats took a softer approach, saying they were thankful Zeldin was not hurt and calling for attacks against politicians to stop.
“Political violence is NEVER acceptable & I forcefully condemn this attack,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) tweeted. “I’m relieved that Congressman Zeldin & others were not hurt.”
“I join in unequivocally condemning the attack on Congressman Lee Zeldin that occurred in New York yesterday. Violence has no place in our politics and I am glad to hear Rep. Zeldin was not seriously injured,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wrote.
Hoyer’s opposite number, Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — who survived an assassination attempt by a left-wing activist in 2017 — tweeted: “Thank God my friend @RepLeeZeldin is okay following the shocking and violent attack targeting him at a political event. Everyone should denounce this kind of violent behavior.”
“Thankful that Congressman Lee Zeldin is safe and unharmed by an attacker who interrupted a campaign appearance upstate and tried to stab him. Violence against a political opponent is never acceptable,” Brooklyn and Queens Rep. Hakeem Jeffries posted.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) also chimed in, saying, “My good friend & colleague Lee Zeldin is the latest public official to be physically attacked. The madness must stop and all persons in authority—from the WH on down—should call this out and clearly condemn the violence.”
“Horrific. A sick individual tried to assassinate Lee Zeldin,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. This disgraceful violence has no place in our society.”
The attack on Zeldin took place 13 days after the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a campaign address.