Democrats are reportedly discussing censuring Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) over the Capitol protests that took place last week as Congress gathered to certify the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) stated on Monday that the Senate Ethics Committee must “consider the expulsion, or censure and punishment, of Senators Cruz, Hawley, and perhaps others” because of the events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“The Senate needs to oversee federal investigation of the attack and ransacking of our national Capitol, through the Judiciary and perhaps Homeland Security Committees,” Whitehouse said in a statement, adding that the Senate must “conduct security review of what happened and what went wrong, likely through the Rules, Homeland, and Judiciary Committees”:
Because Congress has protections from the Department of Justice under separation of powers, specifically the Speech and Debate Clause, significant investigation will need to be done in the Senate. Because of massive potential conflict of interest, Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Johnson (at least) need to be off all relevant committees reviewing this matter until the investigation of their role is complete.
Other Democrat senators have called on Cruz and Hawley, both of whom led the way in challenging electoral votes in disputed states, to resign from their posts, blaming them for the chaos at the Capitol. Those senators include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Patty Murray (D-WA).
According to the Hill, “Democratic aides say there is a discussion about censuring the two lawmakers,” accusing them of inciting the protesters who rushed the Capitol on Wednesday:
A Democratic senator would need to sponsor a resolution to censure or expel Hawley or Cruz for there to be a vote on either option. The possibility of a vote on expulsion is seen as much less likely.
“There were a couple of senators trying to figure that out,” said a Senate Democratic aide. “More and more Democratic caucus members are willing to vote yes on a censure resolution.”
However, neither Hawley nor Cruz encouraged or condoned violence at the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has also blamed President Trump for the protests, said that both Cruz and Hawley should resign or face expulsion from the Senate:
Sen. Cruz, you must accept responsibility for how your craven, self-serving actions contributed to the deaths of four people yesterday. And how you fundraised off this riot.
Both you and Senator Hawley must resign. If you do not, the Senate should move for your expulsion. https://t.co/O2m6T59LYP
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2021
“Leading a debate in the Senate on ensuring election integrity is doing our jobs, and it’s in no way responsible for the despicable terrorists who attacked the Capitol yesterday,” Cruz said as part of his response to the New York lawmaker, who continued to blame him for the chaos:
1/2 @AOC You are a liar.
Leading a debate in the Senate on ensuring election integrity is doing our jobs, and it’s in no way responsible for the despicable terrorists who attacked the Capitol yesterday.
And sorry, I ain’t going anywhere. When you and your socialist buddies… https://t.co/UoKBOC8ZU7
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 7, 2021
Hawley, too, has defended his position, stating last week that he will “never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections.”
The talk of censuring the Republican senators comes as Democrats move to consider articles of impeachment against Trump, also accusing him of inciting the riots despite the fact that the president never encouraged violence nor pressed supporters to storm the Capitol.