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Editorial: Hawley ethics review should yield censure and recusal from Trump impeachment

Editorial: Hawley ethics review should yield censure and recusal from Trump impeachment

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Senate Democrats last week filed an ethics complaint targeting Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas for actions and statements that “lent legitimacy” to the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Hawley deserves to be forced into exercising that good ol’ Republican personal responsibility that he steadfastly avoids at every turn.

Hawley knows he will have a difficult time defending his fist-pump encouragement of the people who swarmed and ransacked Capitol Hill, as they and Hawley claimed that election fraud denied former President Donald Trump his rightful victory. The Senate is entitled to make Hawley answer for his words and actions.

Monday evening’s delivery to the Senate of an article of impeachment against Trump invokes a requirement that all senators swear to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.” That’ll be a tall order considering that Senators won’t just be jurors but also witnesses to the crimes that occurred on Jan. 6. Hawley faces the additional hurdle of having been a likely instigator.

He tweeted after the attack that his critics would not “drown out the legitimate concerns of my constituents.” This is typical of Hawley’s rhetorical magic act, asserting victimhood instead of owning up to his role in the death and destruction he helped incite. For example, he tweeted on Dec. 30 that “Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.”

Hawley is well-practiced in the art of evasion whenever his personal integrity is questioned or he is called to account for his words. His newest strategy is to assert that his First Amendment rights are under attack from an “alliance of leftists and woke capitalists” trying to “regulate the innermost thoughts of every American, from school age to retirement,” as he argued in a New York Post op-ed on Sunday.

On Monday, he argued that the Ethics Committee should discipline the Democrats who filed their “meritless” complaint against him for “historic partisan abuse of the Senate ethics process.”

This is getting downright silly. Unlike Hawley’s evidence-free allegations of vote fraud, there is actual photographic, textual and recorded evidence of his incitement. If his First Amendment rights are being violated, how is he able to continue writing op-eds and issuing public statements? Hawley contends he was “entitled” under the Constitution to challenge the Nov. 3 result. Well, Senate Democrats are equally entitled to challenge him — most notably for his appeal for campaign donations as the riots were starting.

Hawley clearly cannot act impartially regarding Trump’s impeachment. Considering that expulsion would require an unlikely two-thirds vote, official censure by a simple majority and forced recusal from the impeachment trial would yield the official rebuke he so richly deserves.

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