IOWA — US Senator Charles Grassley on Thursday warned Iowans and a national TV audience that U.S. government strike forces armed with rifles could soon be targeting small business owners. The comments have many, including Grassley’s opponent in the November election, asking questions.
In the appearance on FOX News on Thursday morning, Grassley offered a dire warning to viewers over a spending plan in Congress that would include funding for 87,000 IRS employees over the next decade. The Treasury Department has said those thousands of jobs would be spread across the agency, including an increase in IT employees and replacing retiring employees. Grassley, though, says he worries of a more sinister intent.
“Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s (sic) already loaded ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa with these? Because I think they are going after middle class and small business people because basically they think anyone that has pass-through income is a crook and they aren’t paying their fair share and we’re going to go after them,” Grassley said in the interview.
Grassley’s mention of “AK-15s” brought immediate reactions online. An online search shows that an AK-15 is a rifle used exclusively by the Russian military and special forces. It is not a weapon common to the US or American law enforcement. Grassley’s office says the Senator meant to say ‘AR-15’.
Grassley’s Democratic opponent in the fall election, retired Admiral Mike Franken, was among those questioning the Senator’s weapons knowledge on Twitter. Franken’s account Tweeted: “AK-15? Somebody needs to gunsplain WTF he’s talking about.”
The type of weapon mentioned by Grassley isn’t the only part of his Fox News comments that have been called into question. Fact-checkers have classified the claims made by Grassley as false and the Treasury Department itself called similar suggestions “wholly inaccurate”.
Grassley’s warning to Iowans that federal agents with guns “already loaded ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa” on FOX News came hours before a gunman opened fire on FBI agents in Cincinnati. Ricky Walter Shiffer allegedly tried to breach security at an FBI field office then fled from the scene, ultimately leading to an exchange of gunfire and a standoff with authorities. Shiffer was shot and killed by officers hours after the standoff began. Shiffer was armed with an AR-15.
Shiffer reportedly announced his plans to attack the FBI on social media in response to the raid at former president Trump’s home this week. Representative Liz Cheney said on Thursday that verbal attacks on federal authorities by Republican leaders in Congress are putting the lives of agents in danger.