Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (MO) accused Senate Democrats of trying to “silence dissent” late Thursday when they filed an ethics complaint urging an investigation into his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In a letter to incoming Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Chris Coons (D-DE), and Vice Chairman James Lankford (R-OK), Senate Democrats said that the objection effort by Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Electoral College votes from two battleground states won by President Biden “lent legitimacy” to the violent mob of pro-Trump supporters that laid siege on the Capitol.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and a group of six other Senate Democrats, asked for an investigation into the two members to “fully understand their role” as it related to the Capitol attack and to determine if disciplinary action is needed.
Hawley dutifully twisted the ethics complaint into a new GOP favorite that casts accountability into an ominous light — reframing it as an effort to “silence dissent” in a Thursday statement.
“Joe Biden and the Democrats talk about unity but are brazenly trying to silence dissent,” Hawley said. “This latest effort is a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge.”
The surprising comments about silencing dissent comes after Hawley made a deliberate effort during the Jan. 6 session to silence millions of Pennsylvania and Arizona voters who cast their ballots for President Biden in last year’s presidential election when he objected to Electoral College votes from both states.
But the letter clarifies that the question is not about whether Hawley and Cruz had “the right to the object to the electors,” or “dissent,” as Hawley puts it, and instead is a question of conduct and whether they failed to put “loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department,” as stated in the Code of Ethics for government service.
In an apparent effort to deflect from his own efforts to upend democracy earlier this month, Hawley launched further accusations against Democrats, suggesting in the Thursday statement that an impeachment trial for former President Trump was an effort “to further divide the country.”
Cruz, too, made a call for unity that rings hollow after his own efforts to sow division earlier this month.
A spokesperson for the Texas senator, Maria Jeffrey Reynolds, called the ethics complaint “frivolous” and suggested in a statement obtained by the Associated Press that the call for accountability in the complaint somehow conflicted with calls to unite.
“It is unfortunate that some congressional Democrats are disregarding President Biden’s call for unity and are instead playing political games by filing frivolous ethics complaints against their colleagues,” the Texas lawmaker’s spokesperson said.