Press: Why is Mo Brooks still in the House?
On Saturday evening, Donald Trump showed up in a cornfield outside Cullman, Ala., to support Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) for Senate. The result was a disaster.
Both Trump and Brooks were booed by the MAGA crowd: Trump, for encouraging people to get vaccinated; Brooks, for daring to suggest it’s time to move on from 2020 and focus on 2022. Both were criticized for going ahead with the rally two days after the Cullman City Council had declared a local COVID emergency. And Trump angered many Alabama Republicans by interfering in a crowded, four-person, Republican primary to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby.
But that totally misses the point. The real issue about Mo Brooks is not: Should he be the next United States senator from Alabama? But, as members of the House of Representatives return to Washington this week: Why is he still even a member of Congress? The man has sided with a terrorist suspect against the United States.
On Aug. 19, Washington came under attack again when a North Carolina man claiming to have a bomb in his pickup truck parked across the street from the Capitol. Courageous and quick-thinking Capitol Hill police secured the area and talked the suspect into surrendering. Once all clear, everybody in authority rushed to condemn the incident. Everybody, that is, except Mo Brooks.
Brooks actually issued a statement which, while not actually praising the man, endorsed his use of violence to make a political statement. After initially saying he was praying for the safety of first responders, Brooks turned to the suspect himself. Whatever his motivation, Brooks declared, he understood “citizenry anger at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society.”
In other words, if you don’t like what the government’s doing, or if you still think Donald Trump won the last election, Brooks seemed to say, it’s OK to arm yourself with an automatic weapon or a bomb and storm the United States Capitol. That’s simply how Americans express their “citizenry anger.”
Holy Cow! As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) pointed out, given a choice between democracy and terrorism, here was a Republican congressman “taking the side of the bomber.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) called his comments “evil.” And Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) expressed what should be obvious to all: “It is astonishing that this needs to be said, but no one who serves in Congress should be expressing public sympathy with the views of a terrorist who threatened to blow up the U.S. Capitol.”
And, of course, this isn’t the first time that Brooks has been linked with violence at the Capitol. In a fiery speech at Trump’s rally on the morning of Jan. 6, Brooks told the crowd: “Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass” — and encouraged people to “stop at the Capitol” after the rally. Of course, thousands were able to oblige. And Brooks, along with Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, has been sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) for inciting the riot that followed.
Again, the key question is: Why is this behavior acceptable? Why has Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) punished Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for standing up for democracy, but taken no action against Mo Brooks for undermining it?
After all, this isn’t complicated. At the very least, members of Congress should be required to uphold their Oath of Office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Mo Brooks has failed that test. He should be expelled from Congress.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”