Congressman Paul Gosar appeared at a conference organized by a renowned white nationalist and Holocaust denier, with whom he has remained friends. He has backed people who stormed the Capitol on many occasions and actively worked with an organizer of the January 6 event preceding the violence to overturn the election results in 2020.
On Wednesday, he was finally held accountable. The Republican from Arizona was censured and deprived of his committee assignments by the House of Representatives by a vote of 223 to 207, with one member voting “present.” But it wasn’t because of any of those activities. It was because Gosar had tweeted a cartoon.
Of course, it wasn’t just any cartoon. Gosar killed his New York colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and severely attacked President Joe Biden in an altered anime footage shared to his official Twitter account. For Democrats, this established a clear, bright line, a basic guideline that all members could easily follow in the future: Don’t endanger your colleagues’ lives.
However, context is still important. Democrats repeatedly stated their support for the censure motion introduced on January 6. The threat of that incident, as well as the rise in political violence in the United States, hung large as the House addressed what would be the 24th censure of a member in its history.
Republicans voiced their displeasure in two ways. One option was to condemn Gosar but express worry that the sentence was unjust and that the process was defective. In his floor speech, North Dakota Representative Kelly Armstrong claimed the picture was “dumb, ridiculous, idiotic, and mean-spirited,” but not an invitation to violence.
The removal of Gosar from his committees, according to Nebraska Senator Don Bacon, “was a horrible precedent… it damages the institution.” In an interview, Bacon said he “would have been likely” to support a simple vote of censure without the added step of removing Gosar of his Oversight and Natural Resources committee responsibilities.
Gosar sat at the rear of the chamber as the voting began, waiting for his destiny. As members cast their ballots, he threw his arm over Greene’s shoulder and the two in a group embrace with Darrell Issa of California. As the seconds ticked away, Gosar stood behind the House chamber’s back rail, arms hung over it.
Gosar, on the other hand, returned to his office afterward, retweeted the offending video, and issued a statement in which he compared being sanctioned for a tweeted video depicting himself murdering a colleague to the terrorist attack on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France, in which Islamist terrorists murdered 12 people. After all, both were, in his opinion, acts of censure directed against a cartoon.
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