WASHINGTON — Seven U.S. Senate Democrats, including Virginia’s Tim Kaine, urged the chamber’s ethics panel to investigate Sen. Josh Hawley’s role in the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol, and the Missouri Republican is now asking the committee to do the same.
In a Monday letter, Hawley argued that the seven Democrats filed an improper complaint last week against him and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Both Hawley and Cruz objected to Electoral College votes that solidified President Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.
“In sum, this complaint is none other than a transparent attempt by seven Senators to punish a political opponent for the entirely lawful representation of their constituents,” Hawley wrote.
“The Committee should discipline these Members to ensure that the Senate’s ethics process is not weaponized for rank partisan purposes,” Hawley said.
The other six Senate Democrats who signed the Jan. 21 letter to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics are Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawai’i, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Former President Donald Trump made baseless claims that the election was stolen and many GOP members objected to Electoral College results from one or more states prior to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. Lawmakers, the vice president, journalists and staff had to barricade themselves for hours until law enforcement secured the building.
Five people died and more than 50 officers were injured and multiple investigations are underway, with numerous defendants already charged in federal court.
Hawley argued that his objection to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes was not inappropriate. He said that because the state had a massive mail-in ballot movement, it violated Pennsylvania’s state constitution, which is a claim that has been debunked by PolitiFact.
The state Supreme Court threw out those legal challenges and the state’s constitution does not prohibit mail-in voting. Due to the pandemic, more voters sent in their ballots by mail.
Hawley also said the Democrats were peddling conspiracy theories by insinuating that he and his staff coordinated with the rioters who attacked the Capitol.
Democrats did not charge coordination, but asked the committee to investigate if Cruz and Hawley had any communication with any organizers who were in D.C. on Jan. 6 for the “Save America Rally,” where Trump spoke and urged his supporters to go to the Capitol.
“Three members of the House of Representatives who coordinated with Senators Hawley and Cruz to object to the electors, Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and Mo Brooks, have been identified as alleged co-architects of the rally,” Democrats wrote in their letter Jan. 21.
A “Stop the Steal” organizer has said he planned the rally with all three congressmen. Biggs and Gosar, both Arizona Republicans, preemptively sought pardons from Trump for their roles in the insurrection, according to media reports, but the pardons were not issued before Trump left office.
Hawley also asked the ethics committee to question if the seven senators in preparing their complaint had been in contact with groups including the Lincoln Project, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, MoveOn, Voto Latino and the Sierra Club. He also asked about contacts with Democratic leaders and the White House.