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House Censures Paul Gosar over Video Depicting Violence against AOC

Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 28, 2020. (Bill Clark/Pool via Reuters)

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to censure Representative Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) and remove him from his committee assignments after he posted a violent animation of him killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.).

The resolution to censure Gosar passed in a 223 to 207 vote; Representative Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) voted in favor of the resolution, while Representative David Joyce (R., Ohio) voted “present.”

During a House debate on the issue, Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Pa.) argued that lawmakers “cannot dismiss Representative Gosar’s violent fantasies as a joke” because people “look up to us” and “take our lead.”

“So, when a member posts a video of himself killing a colleague, that’s obviously going to have an impact on the way people approach their politics,” Scanlon said.

The controversy began last week when Gosar tweeted out an anime-style cartoon that was created by his congressional staff and showed him killing the progressive “Squad” member and attacking President Biden. 

The congressman said in a statement last week that the video was meant to be a “symbolic cartoon” about immigration policy” and that he does not “espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden.” 

“The video depicts the fight taking place next week on the House floor and symbolizes the battle for the soul of America when Congress takes up Mr. Biden’s massive $4 trillion spending bill that includes amnesty for millions of illegal aliens already in our country and was not meant to depict any harm or violence against anyone portrayed in the anime,” he said.

However, the censure resolution argued that the January 6 Capitol riot shows that such violent rhetoric can cause real threats against lawmakers, particularly female legislators.

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday, meanwhile, adopted an amendment to the resolution that will remove Gosar from the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. 

The House has only ever censured one if its members 24 times — including Gosar’s censure — in its history.

Representative Tom Cole (R., Okla.) noted that the video was “provocative” and “inappropriate” during debate on Wednesday, but expressed concern about the precedent that would be set by removing Gosar from his committees.

“Throughout the history of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority have respected the right of each of their conferences to assign their respective members to committees,” Cole said. “This continues to set an extremely…. dangerous precedent for future Congresses.”

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