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Hawley pens op-ed to defend decision to object to electoral votes amid pushback

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyBush-, Obama-era officials urge Senate to swiftly confirm Biden's DHS pick Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Google suspends donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying election MORE (R-Mo.) penned an op-ed Wednesday defending his decision to object to the Electoral College results of two states as he faces pushback from critics who say he helped fuel last week’s violent mob in the Capitol. 

Writing in the Southeast Missourian, Hawley looked to separate his objections from last week’s riot, noting existing questions among some Missouri voters over the presidential election’s integrity. 

“Let me say again, as I have said before: the lawless violence at the Capitol last week was criminal. There can be no quibbling about that. Those who engaged in it should be prosecuted and punished," he wrote. "Lawless violence undermines the democratic process by which we settle our disputes and threatens our democratic life. That applies to mobs of any and all political persuasions. Mob violence is always wrong."

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“But democratic debate is not mob violence," he continued. "It is in fact how we avoid that violence.”

Hawley, considered by many to be a potential contender in the 2024 presidential race, was the first to announce he would object to the Electoral College results, which showed President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE besting President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE, 306-232.

He issued his objections to the results in Arizona before the riot at the Capitol last week and to the results in Pennsylvania after the mob had been cleared. He wrote Wednesday that he objected to Pennsylvania’s results over the state’s decision to allow universal mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, which he said violated the Keystone State’s constitution. 

“Many, many citizens in Missouri have deep concerns about election integrity,” he wrote. "They want Congress to take action to see that our elections at every level are free, fair, and secure. They have a right to be heard in Congress. And as their representative, it is my duty to speak on their behalf. That is just what I did last week."

“Some wondered why I stuck with my objection following the violence at the Capitol. The reason is simple: I will not bow to a lawless mob, or allow criminals to drown out the legitimate concerns of my constituents,” he wrote.

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Hawley’s defense of his controversial objections comes as he faces a fusillade of attacks from Democrats and some Republicans who are mulling introducing a censure resolution and are calling on the Missouri lawmaker to resign. It is also still unclear if or how the controversy could impact a potential 2024 bid for Hawley.

“There are people who perpetuated really the big lie, that Donald Trump won in a landslide and it’s all been stolen from him,” Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.) said days after the riots. “That’s not true and we know that’s not true.

“Then there [is] compounding of dishonesties like propagating the idea that somehow Wednesday’s proceedings could result in a different outcome and therefore it was reasonable to try to pressure lawmakers to do this. That was never going to happen,” he added, referencing last Wednesday’s proceedings to certify the Electoral College results that were interrupted by the riot.

“The violent mob that attacked the Capitol was made up of people who don’t accept democracy, and want to take this country by use of force,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said in a statement last week. “Any Senator who stands up and supports the power of force over the power of democracy has broken their oath of office. Senators Hawley and [Ted] Cruz (R-Texas) should resign.”