Lawmakers introduce censure of Arizona congressman over violent video
By Jacob Fischler
Nearly 30 Democratic U.S. House members plan to introduce a resolution censuring their Arizona Republican colleague Rep. Paul Gosar for social media posts that depicted him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
On Sunday, Gosar tweeted from both his official and personal accounts and posted on Instagram a video showing an anime sequence with the faces of Gosar, Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden superimposed over original characters. The character with Gosar’s face swings swords at Ocasio-Cortez and Biden.
The video also included images of U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-Ga.), and Lauren Boebert, (R-Colo.).
The censure resolution’s lead sponsor, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, (D-Calif.), said in a Thursday statement the group would introduce the resolution at the House pro forma session Friday.
A censure resolution needs majority approval in the House. According to the Congressional Research Service, the lawmaker being censured also generally stands in the well of the House to receive a verbal rebuke and to hear a reading of the resolution. It is not as severe a sanction as expulsion. The last member to be censured by the House, in December 2010, was Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat.
Nine Democrats in addition to Speier are listed as primary co-sponsors of the Gosar resolution. That group includes U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Brenda Lawrence and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Nikema Williams of Georgia.
In a statement, the members called the posts created using official government resources “a clear-cut case for censure,” and criticized House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for allowing such rhetoric in his conference.
“As the events of January 6th have shown, such vicious and vulgar messaging can and does foment actual violence,” the members said, referring to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted. Minority Leader McCarthy’s silence is tacit approval and just as dangerous.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the video in her own series of tweets Monday after arriving at the United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland. She also criticized McCarthy.
“So while I was en route to Glasgow, a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me,” she wrote. “And he’ll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader [McCarthy] cheers him on with excuses.
“Fun Monday! Well, back to work bc institutions don’t protect” women of color.
In a Tuesday statement, Gosar defended the video.
“I do not espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden,” he said. “The video depicts the fight taking place next week on the House floor and symbolizes the battle for the soul of America.”
Gosar has since deleted the posts including the video. Tweets defending the video remained online.
One tweet included a meme with the caption, “It’s a cartoon. Relax.”
A spokesman for Gosar did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Additional cosponsors of the resolution include U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Raul Grijalva, the dean of Arizona’s delegation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also has called for an investigation of the video by the House Ethics Committee and law enforcement.
House Dems ask why federal judges hired law clerk alleged to have sent racist text
By Ariana Figueroa
WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are urging the chief justice of the Supreme Court to investigate decisions by federal judges in Georgia and Alabama to hire a law clerk who allegedly has “a history of nakedly racist and hateful conduct.”
The letter says the Democrats have “grave concern” about the hiring by Judge William Pryor, chief judge of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and Judge Corey Maze of the Northern District of Alabama.
States in the 11th Circuit include Florida, Alabama and Georgia. The letter was led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York and Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Chairman Hank Johnson of Georgia.
“Placing an individual with this history in such close proximity to judicial decision-making threatens to seriously undermine the public’s faith in the federal judiciary,” the House Democrats wrote.
“To put it mildly, it would be reasonable to question these judges’ impartiality in cases where race, religion, or national origin plays a role, which is the statutory standard for disqualification,” they wrote.
They did not name the law clerk in their letter but in footnotes link to articles about Crystal Clanton, a student at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Virginia.
The legal blog Above the Law first reported Clanton had been hired for the “incredibly prestigious” clerkships, set for 2022 and 2023, by Pryor and Maze.
Clanton made headlines in 2017 when The New Yorker reported that she sent a racist text message to her co-workers at the conservative student group Turning Point USA, writing “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE… I hate blacks. End of story.” The New Yorker reviewed a screenshot of the text.
Clanton told the publication that “I have no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.”
The House Democrats’ letter details other reported incidents, such as when Clanton sent a photo of a man with brown skin to her co-workers with the caption “just thinking about ways to do another 9/11,” according to the publication Mediaite.
When she worked at Turning Point USA, Clanton fired the organization’s only Black employee on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and that employee stated in The New Yorker article that she felt “very uncomfortable working there because I was black.”
Clanton left Turning Point USA and later worked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni.
The House Democrats wrote to Roberts as the presiding member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the national policy-making body for the federal courts. They also addressed the letter to Judge Charles Wilson, the most senior active member of the 11th Circuit appeals court.
They said while the reported remarks are “worrying in the extreme,” their concern was more that Pryor and Maze would make such a hire. They said the clerk’s past conduct was clearly available at the time of the hiring decisions.
“If the judges were not aware of their law clerk’s widely reported record, their negligent hiring practices present their own set of problems with the judiciary and the judges’ abilities to discharge their administrative responsibilities competently,” the Democrats said.
Due to a federal holiday, Pryor and Maze could not be reached for comment.
The Democrats said that “to date, the news of these judges’ hiring decisions has been met with uniform silence by the judges themselves, the courts on which they sit, and the Judicial Conference.”
The letter was also signed by Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Chair Steve Cohen, (D-Tenn.), and Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations Chair Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.).
The lawmakers wrote that they expect a briefing on the matter by Dec. 1.