House censors Arizona Rep Gosar for violent video in rare reprimand

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House on Wednesday voted to censor Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for posting an animated video of him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword, an extraordinary rebuke that put highlight the political tensions testing Washington and the country.

Calling the video a clear threat to the life of a lawmaker, Democrats argued that Gosar’s conduct would not be tolerated in any other workplace – and should not be in Congress.

The vote to censor Gosar, and also to strip him of his committee duties, was approved by a vote of 223-207, almost entirely along party lines.

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the vote an “abuse of power” by Democrats to distract from domestic issues. He said of censorship that a “new standard will continue to be applied in the future,” a signal of potential ramifications for Democratic members in future congresses.

But Democrats said there was nothing political about it.

“These actions demand a response. We cannot let members joke about killing each other,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It is both an endangerment of our elected officials and an insult to the institution.”

Ocasio-Cortez herself said in a moving speech: “Our work here matters. Our example matters. Our service makes sense. this country. And this is where we have to draw the line. “

Unrepentant, Gosar rejected what he called the “distortion” that the design was “dangerous or threatening. It was not.”

“I don’t espouse violence against anyone. I never did. It wasn’t my goal to anger anyone,” Gosar said.

He compared himself to Alexander Hamilton, the country’s first Treasury secretary, celebrated in recent years in a Broadway musical, whose vote of no confidence in the House was rejected: “If I have to join Alexander Hamilton, the first no one tried to be censored by this House, so be it, it’s done. “

The move to censor Gosar, one of the harshest punishments the House can inflict, was only the fourth in nearly 40 years – and just the latest example of the heightened tensions that have rocked Congress since the 2020 election and the violent Capitol uprising that followed. .

The decision to go ahead with the effort arose out of Democratic frustration with the House GOP, which refused to publicly reprimand Gosar, who has a long history of inflammatory remarks.

Instead, GOP leaders largely ignored his actions and urged their members to vote against the resolution censoring him. They also warned that the effort was setting a precedent that could come back to haunt Democrats if they find themselves in the minority.

Gosar posted a declaration by email, saying, in part, “President Trump called me his’ warrior ‘for a reason. I fought for America First and against the Democrats’ efforts to destroy this country with open borders, drugs, illegal immigration and human trafficking all tolerated and initiated by the Biden administration. My team has created a short animated video that depicts, in literary form, the scourge of open borders and the people that promote and support him. This is done in a superhero format with good guys and bad guys. He flies through the air. He moves fast. But he doesn’t incite violence. He doesn’t encourage violence.

Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida said, “I would just suggest that we have better things to do on the floor of the House of Representatives than being the Twitter monitors for Twitter.”

The resolution will remove Gosar from two committees: Natural Resources and the Watch and Reform Group, which Ocasio-Cortez also sits on, limiting his ability to shape legislation and meet the needs of voters. He says depictions of violence can foment real violence and endanger the safety of elected officials, citing the Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol as an example.

Gosar becomes the 24th member of the House to be censored. While it has no practical effect other than to provide a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career, it is the most severe punishment the House can impose unless a expulsion, which requires a two-thirds vote.

Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was the last to receive the reprimand in 2010 for financial misconduct.

It would also be the second time this year that the House has initiated the removal of a GOP lawmaker from a designated committee, the first being Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Gosar, a six-term congressman, posted the video over a week ago with a note saying, “Anime fans out there? The approximately 90-second video was an edited version of a Japanese anime clip, interspersed with shots of border patrol agents and migrants on the southern border of the United States.

During a section of about 10 seconds, animated characters whose faces had been replaced by Gosar, Greene, and Representative Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Were shown fighting other animated characters. Another made to resemble Ocasio-Cortez is struck by Gosar’s character in the neck with a sword. The video also shows him attacking President Joe Biden.

Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., whose receipt of repeated death threats has forced her to spend thousands of dollars on security, said Gosar had not apologized to her. She singled out McCarthy for failing to convict Gosar.

“What is so hard to say that is wrong?” Ocasio-Cortez told the House Wednesday. “It’s not about me. It’s not about Representative Gosar. But it’s about what we are willing to accept.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Was one of the few Republicans who said he would vote to censor Gosar.

“We need to hold accountable those members who incite or glorify violence, who propagate and perpetuate dangerous plots. Failure to do so will bring us one step closer to the reality of this fantasy violence,” Kinzinger tweeted.

This is not the first brush of controversy for Gosar, who was first elected in the 2010 tea party wave. He has been criticized several times by his own siblings, six of whom appeared in campaign ads supporting his Democratic opponent in 2018.

Earlier this year, Gosar sought to form an America First Caucus with other extremist Republican members of the House that aimed to promote “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” while warning that mass immigration endangered “l ‘unique identity’ of the United States. He has made appearances at right-wing fringe events, including a rally in London in 2018 for a jailed British activist who has repeatedly broadcast anti-Muslim views and a rally in Florida last February hosted by Nick Fuentes, a Internet personality who promoted white supremacist beliefs.

He also portrayed a woman shot dead by Capitol Police during the Capitol attack as a martyr, claiming that she had been “executed”. And he falsely suggested that a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was organized by “the left” and supported by billionaire George Soros, a major backer of liberal causes who is became the center of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

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Associated Press editors Alan Fram and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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Associated Press editors Alan Fram and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.


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