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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) returned to a standing ovation in the House more than three months after a baseball practice shooting left him fighting for his life. Photo: Jose Luis Magana / AP

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was welcomed back to Capitol Hill Thursday with a standing ovation from his fellow Congressman, sat down with Politico's Tim Alberta to share the emotional story of his near-death experience after being shot at a Congressional baseball practice in June. After coming close to bleeding out on the field, Scalise recalls his first memory of the gunfire:

Standing on a baseball field, "you're not thinking 'that's a bullet' ... I felt it … and I just went to the ground. I still had enough energy to start crawling—I'm crawling just to get away. And then my arms just gave out. And at that point, I'm just lying on the ground and I'm hearing gunfire. And so I just started praying. I mean, literally, just started praying. It was weird: I got almost an ease over me, because I felt like, you know what, there's nothing I can—I can't move. So I'm just going to pray to God and put [it] in his hands."

Key excerpts:

  • What happened next: "I started hearing the counterfire—a different caliber bullet. So I knew my security detail was engaged. And so I prayed for them to be successful. It seemed like forever. And I mean, it was a lot of gunfire. You could tell it was just a brutal fight."
  • "Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), who served as a combat doctor in Afghanistan, applied a tourniquet to Scalise that doctors later credited with saving his life. Scalise said Wenstrup had a worried look on his face after realizing that the bullet never exited Scalise's body, and that prompted him to get Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to contact his wife Jennifer. 'She answered, and he was the first person to tell her what happened,' Scalise tells me. 'She was asleep. It was 6:30 in the morning in New Orleans.'"
  • Paramedics planned to drive him to George Washington University hospital, but because of his condition and the heavy traffic, feared he would die before they arrived. So they waited for a helicopter.
  • His optimistic outlook: "If you had [said] at the beginning of the day there's going to be a guy who shows up committed to kill Republicans, with this kind of weaponry, and he's got the element of surprise, what do you think the outcome's going to be? And they're all out there on the field, sitting ducks? Nobody would have said four people got shot but walked away, and the shooter's dead ... that's because of the skill and presence of my Capitol Police security detail. And a little divine intervention from God."
  • "The deluge of kindness and encouragement" from others during his recovery "took him by surprise": "A deeply personal conversation with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu lifted his spirits; a care package of authentic Tex-Mex cuisine delivered from Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar's district was among the more memorable bipartisan gestures," writes Alberta. "The highlight, though, was a phone call from Bono. Scalise has been a U2 fanboy since high school ... and Bono responded by asking Scalise to be his special guest at a concert there in mid-September."
  • On how he feels now: "I don't feel like a different person. I just know how lucky I am."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”