Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) is in serious trouble. Not only is he facing potential censure and expulsion votes, but he also may be charged with a federal crime for pulling the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building in a ridiculous attempt to delay the vote on the stopgap resolution to prevent a government shutdown.
According to 18 U.S. Code 1512(c), “Whoever corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” Bowman also violated D.C. laws by initiating a false fire alarm.
Unfortunately for Bowman, there was little doubt as to who pulled the fire alarm. It took almost no time to identify him as the culprit thanks to surveillance video. So Bowman and his office made no effort to deny his responsibility for the incident but claimed it was done accidentally.
“I want to personally clear up confusion surrounding today’s events. Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” Bowman claimed in a statement released Saturday evening.
“But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” Bowman continued. “It was the exact opposite — I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did and joined my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to keep our government open. I also met after the vote with the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police, at their request, and explained what had happened. My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was. I am working hard every day, including today, to do my job, to do it well, and deliver for my constituents.”
There are many problems with Bowman’s statement. For one thing, Democrats had been attempting to delay and postpone the vote on Saturday in order to force a shutdown but were unsuccessful. Bowman’s action was clearly a harebrained scheme to delay the vote — which, we’ve already established, is a crime under federal law. Naturally, his statement was designed to undermine claims that his actions were applicable under 18 U.S. Code 1512(c) by addressing his intent. Not only did he claim he accidentally triggered the alarm, he insisted he was rushing back to the Capitol to vote.
There are many holes in these claims. For starters, here’s a surveillance footage photo of Bowman pulling the alarm:
🚨🚨NEW — Capitol Police are circulating this photo of a man pulling the fire alarm in Cannon. Looks a lot like Jamaal Bowman pic.twitter.com/khzpigSvWI
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 30, 2023
Here’s a clear photo of the exit that Bowman claims is usually open:
This doesn’t really seem that confusing pic.twitter.com/EXM5VOWJAp
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) September 30, 2023
As you can see, there is a sign posted noting that the door is an emergency exit only, which Bowman had to walk past in order to pull the alarm. You can see it in both the surveillance footage and the photo. In addition to the posted sign, there was signage on both doors reading: “EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY. PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS (3 SECONDS). DOOR WILL UNLOCK IN 30 SECONDS.”
After passing the sign ahead of the exit and seeing the signage posted on the doors themselves, Bowman then had to turn to his left to see the conspicuous and standard design of a fire alarm, which is clearly marked and requires multiple actions to trigger. Are we really supposed to believe that Bowman thought it would somehow open the doors?
This would be a good time to note that Bowman is the founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, in Eastchester, Bronx, N.Y. They have those red fire alarm pulls there too, as Rep. George Santos demonstrates in a video posted to X (formerly known as Twitter).
PSA: especially to all the boys and girls who were students at Cornerstone Academy for Social Action because your principal may not have taught you. pic.twitter.com/bgXuEwTobm
— Rep. George Santos (@RepSantosNY03) September 30, 2023
There’s no chance this was an accident. Bowman must be arrested and charged with a felony.