After Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) tweeted a video depicting an animated version of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) on Monday, Democratic leaders in Congress have called for an investigation into the Arizona lawmaker.
“Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) wrote on Tuesday. She then called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) to join her in “condemning this horrific video,” asking him to “call on the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) also condemned Gosar’s video, calling it a “disgusting video from a pathetic man.”
The video, which Gosar tweeted on Monday, depicts Gosar’s face overlaid on an anime character slashing the neck of a character with Ocasio-Cortez’s face superimposed on it. After killing Ocasio-Cortez, the video shows Gosar — alongside Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) — preparing to attack President Joe Biden.
McCarthy has been mum on the issue so far — and it’s unlikely that the house minority leader will pursue formal disciplinary action against Gosar, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out on Twitter. “He’ll face no consequences because [McCarthy] cheers him on with excuses,” she wrote. Although this isn’t the first time that the New York progressive has faced violent language and threats from her colleagues, there has never been any action or ethics investigations in response. “All at my job,”Ocasio-Cortez continued, “and nothing ever happens.”
The House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee also called for an ethics investigation on Tuesday, saying, “In any other job in America, if a coworker made a video killing another coworker, that person would be fired.”
“Mr. McCarthy needs to decide whether he will finally stand with the American people on the side of law and order or he will continue to support violence and chaos,” wrote the committee’s co-chairs, Representatives Matthew Cartwright (Pennsylvania), Debbie Dingell (Michigan), Ted Lieu (California) and Joe Neguse (Colorado) in a statement.
Predictably, Gosar’s office has downplayed his violent threat. In a disingenuous statement released on Wednesday, Gosar said that he doesn’t “espouse violence or harm against any Members of Congress or Mr. Biden,” despite the video showing him literally espousing violence against Democrats. He then made the dubious claim that the video was meant to portray fights over bills in Congress — fights, evidently, where politically motivated murder is justified.
If McCarthy chooses to ignore this incident, it wouldn’t be the first ethics violation that he’s blatantly ignored. Multiple far-right members of his caucus have been tied to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, in which several people died and the lives of many lawmakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, were threatened.
Last month, Rolling Stone reported that one of the attack’s organizers claimed a number of extremist right-wing Republican lawmakers had helped plan the attempted coup, specifically naming Gosar, Greene and Boebert. That report was met with silence from Republican leaders.
In fact, some experts say that McCarthy himself has violated ethics rules. Earlier this year, McCarthy threatened telecommunications companies, saying that if they comply with the January 6 committee request to retain call records related to the attack, the GOP “will not forget.” In an op-ed for Politico, ethics experts Norm Eisen and Fred Wertheimer said that this threat should be subject to a House Ethics Committee probe, and perhaps even a criminal referral.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are calling for Gosar to be removed from Congress. “Every day these white supremacists push the limits further and further to see how far they can go without consequences. This puts lives in danger,” wrote Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) on Tuesday. “Enough with the violent bigotry. Expel this white supremacist clown.”