WASHINGTON — Several lawmakers said Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) ought to resign or be expelled from Congress for helping Donald Trump incite the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Hawley and Cruz led the effort on Capitol Hill to throw out the 2020 election, objecting to state results while a mob formed outside the building. Hawley even raised his fist to the group on his way into the House chamber, despite police warnings about possible violence, despite the street fighting in prior days.
After the siege of the Capitol, several senators said Cruz and Hawley failed to uphold their oath of office.
“There must be consequences for senators who would foment a violent mob for personal gain,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said shortly after the attack. “I call on Senators Hawley and Cruz to resign and accept the responsibility which they so clearly bear.”
Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also said Cruz and Hawley should resign or be expelled — an extraordinary thing to say in the relentlessly congenial Senate, though it didn’t feel crazy after the Capitol had been ransacked by violent thugs.
But the pair weren’t pariahs for long, and for most of the rest of the year they went about their business as senators like nothing happened.
“You know, I will say one nice thing about the Senate: We do actually manage to get along with each other relatively well,” Cruz told HuffPost. “It’s been my experience that Republicans and Democrats do a pretty good job of engaging with each other as human beings in this institution.”
In January, Whitehouse and six of his colleagues filed a formal complaint against Cruz and Hawley with the Senate Ethics Committee, asking the panel to consider recommending the Senate censure or even expel the senators.
“When Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley announced they would object to the counting of state-certified electors on January 6, 2021, they amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country,” the complaint said. “By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely.”
The complaint asked the committee to investigate whether the duo upheld “the highest moral principles and to country,” per the federal code of ethics for government service, and if they engaged in “improper conduct reflecting on the Senate,” per the Senate ethics manual.
If the committee recommended their expulsion, doing so would require votes from two-thirds of the Senate. That many senators couldn’t even agree to convict Trump for his obvious incitement of the riot, so it’s unlikely the Senate would expel a member for merely helping the incitement.
The committee does its work in private, without public hearings, and before it announced a new general counsel in November, it hadn’t even put out a press release since 2017. Its chairmen, Sens. Coons and James Lankford (R-La.), declined to comment. Coons seemed disgusted that a reporter would even ask about the committee’s work, scowling that “of course” he couldn’t discuss it.
Whitehouse told HuffPost the committee “has the ability to get to the bottom the extent to which their role in objecting to the ballots was coordinated with the effort to attack the Capitol.”
He said “the evidence needs to be gathered, determinations need to be made, and the ethics committee needs to make its recommendations, and then we’ll know.”
Meanwhile, a bipartisan House committee has been digging into contacts between the Trump administration, Jan. 6 event organizers and members of Congress, but the committee’s publicly disclosed queries to lawmakers have so far focused on House Republicans, not senators.
Cruz and Hawley told HuffPost they hadn’t heard from the Senate ethics committee.
Hawley, for his part, filed his own ridiculous complaint with the ethics committee, saying Democrats had unfairly used the formal ethics process to beef with him.
As for all those senators who said he should simply resign?
“I haven’t heard anything more about that,” Hawley said. “I haven’t visited with anybody about that.”