House

Cheney, Kinzinger signal they’d back Gosar censure

Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) are expressing support for censuring their fellow Republican Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) for posting a photoshopped anime video this week depicting himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Cheney and Kinzinger have frequently criticized their own party over its continued ties to former President Trump, but it is nevertheless extraordinarily rare for lawmakers to back censure efforts against members of their own party.

A group of House Democrats, led by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), formally introduced a resolution on Friday to censure Gosar over the video, which the Arizona Republican defended as a “symbolic” fight over immigration but appeared to remove from Twitter following the outcry.

The support from two Republicans adds more credence to Democrats’ effort to invoke one of the House’s harshest punishments against one of its own members. Democratic leaders have previously declined to move forward with other efforts to censure Republicans — including Gosar — for promoting Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election or downplaying the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Cheney said in an interview with The Associated Press published Friday that Gosar should be censured “for his continued indefensible activities.”

She also criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for his continued public silence on Gosar as well as on the attacks from the far-right on the 13 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“It’s a real symbol of his lack of strength, the lack of leadership in our conference right now, and the extent to which he and other leaders seem to have lost their moral compass,” Cheney said. “In a moment where you’ve got an avowed white nationalist in Rep. Gosar who has posted a video advocating the killing of another member, the idea that our leader will not stand against that but that he’s somehow going after and allowing attacks against 13 members who are conducting themselves in a serious and substantive way is really outrageous.”

Kinzinger, meanwhile, said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday that he would also likely back the censure resolution.

“My lean would be yes. I have to see what is written in the resolution,” Kinzinger said.

“But, look, I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat, we cannot in this country, Wolf, get to a point where using anime even, which is creepy in and of itself, but using anime or regular videos or deep fakes or even just tweeted threats against a sitting member of Congress can be acceptable. It is never acceptable. It can’t be acceptable. And so I think barring any egregious language in a resolution to censure, I would intend to vote yes,” Kinzinger added.

Neither Cheney nor Kinzinger have co-sponsored any of the previous resolutions introduced by Democrats this year to censure other Republicans, making this the first time they’ve endorsed such an effort against a member of their own party.

Since January, Democrats have also introduced resolutions to censure Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andrew Clyde (Ga.), Jody Hice (Ga.) and Gosar. 

Before Speier and others moved to censure Gosar over the video, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced a resolution in May to censure Gosar for defending Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who was fatally shot outside of the House chamber on Jan. 6, as a “veteran wrapped in an American flag” who was “executed.”

Only 23 lawmakers have been censured in the House’s history. The most recent member to be censured was former Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in 2010 for a variety of ethics violations that included failing to pay taxes on his vacation home and misusing official letterhead for fundraising.

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