New York Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman, one of the members of the progressive “Squad” in the House, on Thursday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm in a congressional office building.
Bowman pulled the alarm in September right before lawmakers were going to vote on a government funding bill that would ultimately avert a shutdown of the federal government.
The former principal of a middle school was charged with the count on Wednesday, and he appeared in D.C. Superior Court one day later for his arraignment.
Initially, Bowman could have faced up to six months in jail for his crime. However, he struck a plea deal that allowed him to avoid jail time altogether. Instead, he will pay a fine of $1,000 and write an official apology to Capitol Police.
He’ll also serve three months of probation, and if he doesn’t violate it, his charge will then be withdrawn.
The lawmaker had originally claimed that he pulled the fire alarm by mistake, that he was just trying to open one of the emergency doors to the building so that he could vote on the proposal.
Breitbart News was the media outlet that originally broke the news, though, that Bowman gave warning signs to members on the House floor before he pulled the fire alarm. He then ran down stairs before he left the building from a different floor – all of which obviously contradicted his initial claims.
Right before his arraignment Thursday, Bowman said to reporters that he was feeling “good.” Before he entered his guilty plea, Bowman said:
“What I did was against D.C. law. I really regret that this caused so much confusion and that people had to evacuate, and I just caused a disturbance. I hate that. It’s pretty embarrassing.”
Media outlet The Hill reported that the prosecutors who attended the hearing on Thursday said they would have been able to provide evidence that Bowman pulled the fire alarm even though he knew there wasn’t a fire or emergency at the building. They also said they have evidence that Bowman didn’t tell Capitol Police he was the one who pulled the alarm.
Even though Bowman is facing legal action for what he did, Republicans in the House have also drafted a resolution that would expel the progressive Democrat from Congress altogether.
He responded by saying Republicans “have to do what they have to do.” He also said he’s been cooperating with leaders of the GOP “from the very beginning.”
Despite pleading guilty, Bowman is still claiming that he wasn’t trying to disrupt the proceedings of Congress. He only acknowledged that he broke the law.
As he said:
“I said, from the very beginning, I was not trying to disrupt any congressional proceedings. I’m glad that the investigation yielded that. And so it was against D.C. law, and I got to take responsibility for it, which I’m here to do.”