Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack

Seven Senate Democrats are asking the Ethics Committee to open an investigation into GOP Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The senators filed a complaint on Thursday with the committee asking that it probe whether Hawley and Cruz’s objections to the Electoral College results violated the chamber’s ethics rules.

“The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate their conduct to fully understand their role. The actions of which we know demand an investigation and a determination whether disciplinary action is warranted.  Until then, a cloud of uncertainty will hang over them and over this body,” the senators wrote.

Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Tina Smith (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) teamed up on the ethics complaint.

The group specifically wants the Ethics Committee to probe if the two senators’ actions failed to “[p]ut loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department” or if they engaged in “improper conduct reflecting on the Senate” in connection with the attack.

The Democratic senators also outlined several questions they believed should be probed as part of an Ethics Committee investigation including if they were in touch with coordinators for the rally, if they encouraged any “insurrectionist” acts or if they “engaged in criminal conduct, or unethical or improper behavior.”

“While it was within Senators’ rights to object to the electors, the conduct of Senators Cruz and Hawley, and potentially others, went beyond that,” they wrote in the letter to Ethics Committee leadership. 

Cruz and Hawley, two potential 2024 presidential contenders, have denounced the mob that breached the Capitol but they’ve also stood by their decisions to object to the Electoral College results from Arizona and Pennsylvania, respectively.

Hawley, in a statement after the Ethics Committee probe was requested, accused Democrats of trying to “silence dissent.”

“This latest effort is a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge,” he said.

Hawley and Cruz have faced fierce backlash for objecting to Arizona and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College results.

The Senate’s debate on Arizona’s results, to which Cruz objected, was interrupted by the rioters breaching the building. Hawley moved forward with his Pennsylvania objection even after the attack.

The ethics complaint comes as several Democratic senators have called on Cruz and Hawley to resign from the Senate, and others have suggested they should be formally censured. The two Republicans were among eight GOP senators who opposed at least one of the efforts to throw out election results.

In addition to launching an investigation, Democratic senators are asking the Ethics Committee to “offer recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered.”

Updated at 6:28 p.m.

Tags Capitol breach Ethics investigation Josh Hawley Mazie Hirono Ron Wyden Senate Sheldon Whitehouse Sherrod Brown Ted Cruz Tim Kaine Tina Smith

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