President Biden on Friday condemned the attack on Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for New York governor, as an attack on democracy.
Mr. Biden spoke out after the attacker, who accosted Mr. Zeldin on stage during a campaign event Thursday, was released from jail on his own recognizance — provoking howls of outrage from Republican officials.
“I condemn the attack on Congressman Zeldin in the strongest terms. As I’ve said before, violence has absolutely no place in our society or our politics,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.
“I am especially grateful for the courage of those who immediately intervened, and that he is unharmed and was able to continue his speech. I also want to thank the law enforcement officers who quickly took action and are investigating this attack that defies our fundamental democratic values,” said Mr. Biden, 79, who is quarantined at the White House after testing positive for COVID-19.
Mr. Biden did not mention the lenient treatment meted out by New York authorities, who quickly released from custody the man who lunged at Mr. Zeldin with a blade in hand.
The congressman escaped unharmed.
SEE ALSO: Man who attacked Lee Zeldin, GOP nominee for N.Y. governor, released on own recognizance
David G. Jakubonis, 43, of Fairport, New York, was charged with attempted assault in the second degree, arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released. Video footage of the incident showed him approaching Mr. Zeldin on a stage platform and saying, “You’re done.”
He allegedly had a blade of some kind in his hand. Mr. Jakubonis was tackled.
Mr. Zeldin said he predicted the suspect would be released and panned New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Democrats for weak leadership on crime.
“Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes. The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws,” Mr. Zeldin tweeted Friday.
Mr. Zeldin was speaking at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Perinton, just south of Rochester, New York.
Gerard Kassar, chair of the New York State Conservative Party, called the quick release of the attacker a black mark for the state’s Democratic leaders.
“Only in New York can someone attack a sitting congressman with a weapon and be back out on the street within hours,” he said. “But that’s the state we live in under Governor Kathy Hochul and reckless, one-party Democrat rule.”
He said the attack could have been provoked by Ms. Hochul’s campaign fanning partisan hatred against Mr. Zeldin.
“It’s yet to be seen if the assailant was directed to the event by Gov. Hochul herself — her campaign issued an angry, hyperbolic dummy news advisory to steer protesters to the Zeldin rally — but it is our hope that she will use better judgment in the future. This state is volatile enough without its governor ginning up fury.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of New York State Conservative Party chair Gerard Kassar.