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10 Democratic lawmakers move to punish Paul Gosar over violent video

Democrats will introduce a censure resolution against the Arizona Republican, who posted a video that depicts him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

By Emily Singer - November 11, 2021
Paul Gosar

A group of 10 Democratic members of Congress announced Wednesday evening that they will move to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) over a video he shared online that shows an anime figure with his head murdering a Democratic colleague and attacking the president.

“For a Member of Congress to post a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden is a clear cut case for censure,” the House members said in a news release announcing their censure resolution. “For that Member to post such a video on his official Instagram account and use his official congressional resources in the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials goes beyond the pale.”

Gosar posted the video to Twitter Sunday night. It depicts him as an anime character who beheads Ocasio-Cortez with a sword and swings swords at Biden.

On Monday, Twitter put a content warning on the video, saying it violated the company’s policy on “hateful conduct,” but it allowed the video to remain on the platform, saying it was of possible “public interest.”

The tweet was deleted as of Tuesday, according to ProPublica’s Politwoops, which tracks lawmakers’ deleted tweets.

Gosar, for his part, defended the video, claiming it was “a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.”

And GOP leaders have so far not said anything, refusing to condemn Gosar’s behavior or punish him in any way. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has not commented, days after the video was first posted.

Democratic lawmakers, however, have expressed anger that one of their colleagues would post a violent video, especially in the current political climate of increasing threats against lawmakers.

This type of despicable behavior should have no place in our country, let alone in Congress,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) tweeted on Nov. 9. “In any other workplace, @RepGosar would already have been fired. He should be stripped of his committee assignments and censured by the House.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for an Ethics Committee probe into Gosar’s actions, and now a growing number of Democrats are pushing to censure him.

Censure is the strongest punishment members of the House can use against one another short of expulsion from the chamber. Only 23 members of the House have been censured; the last to be censured was Democrat Charles Rangel in 2010 for ethics violations. In order for a censure resolution to pass, a simple majority of the members must vote for it.

The Democratic lawmakers who filed the resolution — Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — also slammed McCarthy for his silence on the video.

“As the events of January 6th have shown, such vicious and vulgar messaging can and does foment actual violence. Violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted,” the lawmakers said. “Minority Leader McCarthy’s silence is tacit approval and just as dangerous.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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