House votes to censure GOP Rep. Paul Gosar over video depicting killing of AOC

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., after he posted an animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking President Joe Biden.

The House voted 223-207, with only two Republicans voting in favor of the censure — Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

The resolution also removes Gosar from the two House committees he serves on, Oversight and Reform and Natural Resources.

“The glorification of the suggestion of the killing of a colleague is completely unacceptable,” Cheney told reporters on Wednesday, “And I think that it’s a clear violation of House rules. I think it’s a sad day.”

With the censure resolution passing, Gosar will have to stand in the well of the House chamber as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reads the resolution. Except for expulsion, censure is considered the harshest punishment against a member in the House.

“When a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen to those words and they may act upon them,” Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “Words spoken by elected officials weigh a ton. People hear them very differently.”

Pelosi continued, “These threats specifically targeted a woman, a woman of color, which is, as the resolution states, a global phenomenon meant to silence women, to discourage them for seeking positions of authority and participating in public life. Again, this is about workplace harassment and violence against women.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who sits on the Oversight Committee, said Wednesday that Gosar had not apologized to her.

“What is so hard, what is so hard about saying this is wrong?” she said. “This is not about me. This is not about Rep. Gosar. This is about what we are willing to accept. If you believe that this behavior should not be accepted then vote yes,” she added. “It’s really that simple.”

Democratic members could be seen hugging Ocasio-Cortez on the House floor.

Gosar spoke a few minutes later, denying that the video he posted was intended to be a threat, saying, “I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have.” He declined to apologize and then compared himself to Alexander Hamilton.

“If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done,” he said.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., shot back, “Mr. Gosar, you are no Alexander Hamilton.”

In a statement, following the vote, Gosar said the cartoon was done in a “superhero format with good guys and bad guys. It flies through the air. It moves fast. But it does not incite violence. It does not promote violence.”

“If this cartoon ‘incites violence’ and needs to be banned and me ‘punished’ for it, then the Cartoon Network, Disney and all of Hollywood must be shut down and ‘punished’ for all the cartoon and film violence they portray,” he added.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., ranking member on the House Rules Committee, said the issue should have been dealt with by the Republican conference or the Ethics Committee. He said Democrats have rushed this process and “set an extremely dangerous precedent for the future of this institution.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told CNN on Monday that he discussed the video with Gosar before it was taken down, but that was the only response made by GOP leadership.

Cheney said Tuesday that McCarthy’s inaction on Gosar was “indefensible, morally and ethically, and it’s crazy politically.”

On the floor ahead of Wednesday’s vote, McCarthy criticized Democrats for punishing Gosar.

“It’s an old definition of abuse of power: rules for thee, but not for me. That’s exactly what’s happening here today,” he said. “House Democrats are preparing once again to break another precedent of the United States House of Representatives.”

Gosar shared an edited video on his official social media channels last week in which he and other Republican lawmakers are depicted as heroes from the Japanese anime series “Attack on Titan.” The faces of Ocasio-Cortez and Biden were superimposed on the show’s villains. Twitter later added a warning label to Gosar’s tweet, which was eventually removed. The video was also removed from his Instagram account.

Since 1832, the House has censured about two dozen lawmakers, with the most recent one being Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in 2010, over ethics violations.

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