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November 17, 2021

House censures GOP rep for posting violent video depicting slaying of AOC

The House voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and remove him from his committees over a violent social media post.

Censures are rare in the House, with the last one occurring over a decade ago. But Democratic leaders moved with haste after Gosar posted an anime video last week that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and attacking President Joe Biden.

“Violence against women, workplace harassment, legal matters in terms of threatening a member and threatening the president of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. “We have to address it immediately … it’s outrageous on the part of the Republican leadership not to act upon this.”

The formal admonishment will remove Gosar from both the Natural Resources and House Oversight committees, the latter of which Ocasio-Cortez is also a member.

“It is sad,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong.”

A House divided

Gosar deleted the video and issued a statement explaining his reasoning, but he did not offer an apology.

“I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset. I voluntarily took the cartoon down, not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was. Out of compassion for those who generally felt offense, I self-censored,” Gosar said.

For some Republicans, Gosar’s statement and removal of the video were sufficient, and any further punishment was not necessary.

“I always give people the benefit of the doubt. Although I certainly disagree with the cartoon or whatever it was, he said he’s sorry. He certainly explained that he understands why it’s not right,” Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.).

Some lawmakers reasoned that Gosar’s post exacerbated bipartisan tensions and violent rhetoric.

“It threatens members of Congress, but if we allow him to get away with it, anybody can be threatened,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.). “It also is a lightning rod to individuals who are crazy enough to try to carry something out — it gives the message that this would be OK.”

“It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong.”

Some House members opposed the censure because of its implications.

“I’m going to vote against it. It’s too broad. They’re taking unnecessary shots at Republicans,” said Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) ahead of the vote. “If we take over the House next year, the same thing can happen to Democrats.”

Democrats largely dismissed GOP claims that Democrats might face similar consequences if the House flips in the midterm elections, saying Gosar is an extreme example.

“If Democrats do something as egregious as Mr. Gosar they ought to be censured about it,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-N.Y.). “This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue about safety. Not inciting violence and acting in a way that is consistent with what the House ought to expect. Mr. Gosar did not do that.”

Censures are a rarity

Censures are rare in the House, with only 23 members ever being officially rebuked. The last censure was against then-Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) in 2010 for misusing federal resources, filing inaccurate financial disclosure forms, and failing to pay taxes on a rental property in the Dominican Republic.

“Censure should not be frivolous. This is a 10-year gap [from] the last time we did censure. I don’t like having the responsibility of punishing members,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). “But what struck me was the reckless lack of consideration of what the remarks through a video would do in terms of the safety and security of the president of the United States and a member of Congress.”

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House to vote on censuring Gosar over posting violent video

September 7, 2021

Watchdog group requests ethics investigation over GOP retaliation threats

A watchdog group is calling for an investigation into House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for violating rules by threatening retaliation against communications companies who comply with records requests.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots requested documents from 35 tech and communications firms. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) argue that both McCarthy and Greene violated House rules by threatening to retaliate against companies that turn over the documents.

“If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy wrote. “If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

McCarthy did not specify which federal law he was referring to.

“If these telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that’s a promise,” Greene said.

CREW filed an official complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“Threatening retaliation for complying with legally valid document demands and preservation requests appears to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1505, which prohibits obstructing congressional investigations, and does not reflect creditably on the House,” the complaint read.

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Watchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy’s Jan. 6 comments.

August 20, 2021

McCarthy sets sights on regaining House majority

House Minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is leading the charge to regain the chamber’s majority in the 2022 midterm elections. McCarthy points to the retirement of Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) as a potentially pivotal moment.

“When you sit back and you look and you want to pinpoint when was the bellwether, when was the moment in time that you truly felt that you knew that the majority was in play and you had the capability of winning – when Ron Kind said that he was retiring,” McCarthy said.

The GOP needs to regain five seats to obtain the House majority they lost in the 2018 midterms. McCarthy believes that more House Democrats will soon retire.

“Once you get past Thanksgiving and members go home, and they’re Democrats and they’ve been challenged before and they’re going to get beat up, Congress is not that great,” he said. “They’ve got new lines where they have to go meet new people and they’re still going to have the White House. They’re going to make a decision to retire, that’s the best time so they can go get another job. When we get that retirement number up higher, into double-digit figures, the whole thing becomes a different play.”

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