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In the Hari Sreenivasan interview of "Nicole Hemmer... an author and historian specializing in the history of conservative media in the U.S" in the June 10, 2022 How Laundering a Conspiracy Theory Can Turn It Into a Mainstream “Truth” | Amanpour and Company the following exchange happens after 10:05 (my transcription):

Sreenivasan: When you mention the Oklahoma City bombing, the response in the country to not just the perpetrators, but the leaders that were there at the time who might have shared some of these beliefs, and really the lack of accountability -- they were not all voted out! Did that set a pattern for how the Republican Part might have changed over time?

Hemmer: I believe so. I mean there were people in Congress at the time who had very close ties to militias and to white power groups, and during the Oklahoma City bombing they of course said 'We denounce the bombing, it was a horrific act'. 'At the same time, these militias have real grievances, and the US government has a real culpability here'. And those members of Congress didn't pay a price. They were reelected to office. They won their primaries, they were appointed to high profile committees.

And of course there were hearings on militias that happened immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing, many of which kind-of soft pedaled the violent rhetoric and ideology behind those militias.

And so because there was no political price, because there was an attempt to paper-over the violent ideologies at the heart of some of these movements, people learned that you don't pay a price for extremism, and in fact it can give you a bigger platform.

Question: Who were people in US Congress who had "very close ties to militias and to white power groups" who suggested the US government had "a real culpability" in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995?

Based on Hemmer's background and activities as a historian one can assume there is substantial research behind these assertions. Though Hemmer's conclusions about the exact extent and nature of the "close ties" might be debatable, they would likely have been mentioned in several sources, and the suggestion of "a real culpability" seems to be a reference to some actual statements by members of Congress who "...were reelected to office. They won their primaries, they were appointed to high profile committees."

Thus my question seems to have a valid premise at least sufficient to be explored in well-sourced answers. Certainly answers contrary to Hemmer's assertions are possible.

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  • Since this is about events circa 25 years ago and I've used an historian as a source, I've added the history tag.
    – uhoh
    Jun 13, 2022 at 5:55
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    "one can assume there is substantial research behind these assertions": Judging from her biography (BA degree in 2001), this historian was in her mid teens when the events in question took place, so she may just be speaking from her memory of the events. On the other hand, given her area of specialization she probably has supplemented her first-hand knowledge with additional research. Her publications on the topic, if any, should mention some primary sources that would serve to answer this question.
    – phoog
    Jun 14, 2022 at 7:28

1 Answer 1

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Rep. Steve Stockman received a cryptic fax the morning of the bombing, and there was some controversy around the timing and order of who his office forwarded it on to and when. The NRA may or may not have received it before the FBI, and it may have been forwarded to one or the other either before or after the bombing. If that sounds confusing, it's because it is.

The claim that he "had very close ties to militias and to white power groups" groups may be easily substantiated after the fact, Rep. Stockman served two non-consecutive terms. He was a Freshman Representative, newly sworn in not long before the bombing in 1995. He was also elected to the House in 2012. However, a big reason for his being elected the first time was very similar to one of the underlying impetuses behind the Oklahoma City bombing itself: Waco and the Branch Davidians. The Federal Government's response during the siege and the large loss of life resulting from the raid were, in fact, very heavily criticized, to the point that Stockman was able to unseat longtime Democratic Rep. Jack Brooks in a surprise win in a supposedly safe Democratic district in Texas.

It would be very difficult, in my opinion, to very easily associate public statements from that preceding election as having "very close ties" to militas and "white power groups" since public sentiment among his constituents at the time was more empathetic towards groups that more moderate thinking people belived to be mostly harmless compared to the might of the Federal Government, but your mileage may vary. Regardless, he was in fact "known as the leader of the informal pro-militia caucus, accusing President Bill Clinton of launching the bungled raid on Waco’s Branch Davidian compound—which resulted in the deaths of 90 people—in order to justify an assault weapons ban." (Source). He sat on the Banking and Financial Services and House Committee on Science during his tenure of the 104th Congress.

During his second term beginning in 2012 Twitter had become a thing during the interlude, and he became very active on the platform. Mother Jones wrote an article about him at the time when that session of Congress was first getting underway:

He’s defended militia groups; accused an attorney general of "premeditated murder"; appeared on a Holocaust-denying radio program; waged a one-man war against Alfred Kinsey; compared his constituents—favorably—to Branch Davidians; and traveled to Denmark to protest climate change while wearing a red blindfold.

Stockman was also convicted in 2018 on a range of charges, but he only served two years after President Trump commuted the remainder of his sentence in 2020.

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    There may be others whom Hemmer was referring to, but Stockman sticks out to me as the most likely.
    – user5155
    Jun 14, 2022 at 5:43

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