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House Censures Gosar, Strips Him of Committees Over Video

November 17, 2021 by Dan McCue
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, takes an elevator as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a resolution to formally rebuke him on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar Wednesday over his posting of a cartoon video on Twitter that showed him beheading Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and lunging, with swords in hand, at President Joe Biden.

Just two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joined all Democrats in the 223-207 vote.

One member, Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, voted “present.” 

With the vote, Gosar became just the 24th member of Congress to be censured since the body was established at New York City’s Federal Hall on March 4, 1789.

Gosar has been a member of Congress since 2010. As part of his punishment, he was removed from both the House Oversight and Reform Committee, a panel on which he served with Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the House Natural Resources Committee.

Prior to the vote, Ocasio-Cortez aimed pointed comments at the majority of her GOP colleagues who already had made it clear they would not support the censure.

“What,” she asked them, “is so hard about saying that this is wrong?”

“This is not about me. This is not about Rep. Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept,” she said.

Gosar defended his actions with remorse, and did not apologize. Instead, when it was his turn to speak, he said he rejected “the false narrative” that arose around his video post “categorically.”

“I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have,” he said. 

“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,” he continued.

Gosar also attempted to argue that the video he posted had educational value in that it contributed “to the understanding and the discussion of the real-life battle resulting from this administration’s open-border policies.”

By then, the die was cast and the tenor of the afternoon set.

For Democrats, Gosar’s video was a stark reminder of the messaging they believe led directly to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“When a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

“Depictions of violence can foment actual violence,” she added.

Republicans, on the other hand, saw the proceedings as a case of Democratic overreach and argued the true intent behind censuring Gosar was to silence conservatives.

“There’s an old definition of abuse of power: rules for thee but not for me,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.

He also warned that retribution will be swift if Republicans take control of the House after the 2022 election.

“It’s about control,” he said.

But House Majority Speaker refused to let that statement stand unchallenged.

“This is not about control,” Hoyer said. “It is about decency, democracy, and security. And the rule of law.”

“What Rep. Gosar did last week is not just worthy of censure – it demands it,” he continued. “This is not about Republicans or Democrats, this is about decency. This is about security for our Members. This is about democracy. Not violent overthrow or opposition.

“No one, Democrat or Republican, ought to be allowed to engage in the promotion of violence against a fellow Member or indeed a fellow American,” Hoyer said. “Because we know where the glorification and promotion of violence leads – we have seen it. We have seen it this year and previous years. Piercing tweets become sharp knives. Fiery words bring out deadly firearms. And cartoon killing begets real life bloodshed.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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