Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Monday filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against seven of his Democratic colleagues, who last week asked the same committee to investigate him and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for their roles in inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building.
In a two-page letter, Missouri’s junior senator suggested without providing any evidence—this seems to be the point of his complaint—that Senate Democrats might have colluded with outside organizations in filing the complaint strictly to hurt Hawley’s reputation.
“They submitted their meritless complaint in potential coordination with a campaign by partisan and dark-money groups that have peddled falsehoods about me and my objection,” he wrote. “By knowingly submitting a frivolous complaint to accomplish impermissible partisan purposes, these Senators have engaged in improper conduct that may reflect upon the Senate. The Committee should discipline these Members to ensure that the Senate’s ethics process is not weaponized for rank partisan purposes.”
The counter-complaint named Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who on Thursday asked the Ethics Committee to investigate whether Hawley and Cruz’s efforts to block the counting of the Electoral College votes violated chamber rules by failing to “[p]ut loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department.”
Hawley also claimed Democrats’ request that the committee investigate “whether and to what extent” he and Cruz were “aware of” or “coordinated with” those involved in the siege was defamatory on its face. Hawley said that Democrats’ suggestion that he may have conspired with Capitol rioters was based on no evidence “whatsoever.”
“Most astonishingly, the Democrats who filed the complaint against me insinuate—without any evidence whatsoever—that I or my staff may have conspired with the criminals who stormed the Capitol,” Hawley wrote, affecting outrage in bold and italicized text. “In most jurisdictions, such statements would constitute defamation per se, and if offered during debate they would constitute a clear violation of Senate Rule XIX.2.”
With the exception of former President Donald Trump, Hawley has become the face of the GOP movement to overturn the 2020 election results. In a now infamous image, Hawley was even photographed raising his fist in solidarity with insurrectionists just before they stormed the Capitol Building. The violence and chaos led to five deaths.
In the days before the Capitol siege, Hawley said he was just asking questions. In the immediate aftermath of the siege, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), for one, countered Hawley by saying that telling constituents the truth was a better idea.
Trump was subsequently impeached for his role in inciting the riots and now awaits a post-presidency trial in the Senate. Hawley has seen his book deal cancelled, donors demanding refunds, and colleagues calling for his expulsion from Congress.
“In light of the shameful abuse of the ethics process you have deliberately engaged in, I have considered whether I should call for you to resign or be expelled from the Senate,” Hawley wrote. “But I continue to believe in the First Amendment, which the US Supreme Court has repeatedly said protects even ‘offensive’ and malicious speech, such as yours.”
Earlier this month Hawley also said that Simon & Schuster’s decision to cancel his book deal over the insurrection constituted a “direct assault on the First Amendment,” a statement which is patently false.
On Monday, Hawley was ripped for claiming he himself had been cancelled and/or “muzzled.” His statement was featured on the front page of the New York Post.
Read the full complaint below.
[image via Samuel Corum/Getty Images]
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