- The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar and remove him from his committee assignments.
- The rebuke comes after Gosar posted an anime video edited that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
- Just two Republicans joined Democrats in support of the resolution.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and remove him from his committee assignments after he posted an anime video that was edited to depict him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Just two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, joined all Democrats in a 223-207 vote in support of the censure resolution. GOP Rep. David Joyce voted “present.”
Censure refers to a formal condemnation of an elected official. Several House Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, expressed their support for the move ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
“As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez said as lawmakers debated the resolution on the House floor. “That is where we must draw the line.”
Republicans, meanwhile, sought to portray the Democratic-led vote as an abuse of power, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy repeatedly invoking the phrase “rules for thee but not for me.”
In his own defense, Gosar said on Wednesday that “it was not my purpose to make anyone upset” and that “there is no threat” in the video he tweeted.
It’s the first time the House has voted to censure a member since 2010, when-Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel was rebuked over ethics violations.
—Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) November 17, 2021
Gosar’s anime video violated Twitter’s ‘hateful conduct’ policy
Wednesday’s rebuke comes after Gosar on November 7 posted a video on Twitter that depicted an edited version of the opening credits of a Japanese animated series called “Attack on Titan,” a show that centers on a hero who fights giant creatures called Titans.
In the 90-second clip, Gosar, along with fellow GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, are seen attacking the “Titan” characters. Gosar’s face is superimposed over one character that kills a Titan with Ocasio-Cortez’s face on it. Gosar’s character also swings two swords at a Titan with Biden’s face on it.
The tweet was captioned: “Any anime fans out there?”
Democrats swiftly condemned the video as Gosar glorifying violence against his own colleague and the president, and called for the Republican lawmaker to be punished. Ocasio-Cortez herself slammed Gosar in a tweet as “a creepy member” she works with who “shared a fantasy video of him killing me.”
“And he’ll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses,” the New York lawmaker wrote, tagging McCarthy on Twitter.
Twitter flagged Gosar’s tweet as a violation of its “hateful conduct” policies but did not remove the tweet because the company “determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” a spokesperson said. Gosar deleted the tweet on November 9.
Gosar has sought to defend himself amid the backlash, saying that he does not endorse violence against Ocasio-Cortez and Biden. The video was meant to be “symbolic” of the GOP’s fight against the Democratic party’s agenda, particularly regarding immigration policy, he said.
“The cartoon depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr. Biden,” Gosar said in a November 9 statement, misspelling Ocasio-Cortez’s last name.
On Tuesday, Gosar tried explaining the video in a GOP conference meeting, reportedly telling his colleagues, “I don’t believe in violence against any member.”
Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Gosar also compared himself to Alexander Hamilton. “If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done,” he said. The lawmaker appeared to be referencing when the House unsuccessfully tried to censure Hamilton while he served as the US’s first Treasury Secretary.
‘We’ve got to act in a decisive fashion’
Before the vote, House Republicans argued that stripping Gosar of his committee assignment would set a problematic precedent. McCarthy, for his part, has previously vowed to strip Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar of her committee assignments if the party regains the majority next year due to GOP allegations of anti-Semitism against her.
Democrats have dismissed the argument. Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told Insider on Wednesday that “none of this would be an issue if Kevin McCarthy was willing to step up and hold his out-of-control members accountable.”
“I’m not gonna live my life in fear of what the out-of-control cover-up caucus may do at some hypothetical point in time in the future,” he added. “We’ve got to act in a decisive fashion to make clear that violence against women is never acceptable.”
Omar was also dismissive of McCarthy’s threat, characterizing it as “childish.”
“I don’t really care for it,” Omar told Insider. “The whataboutism is a distraction from the actual problem that they have in their caucus.”
Omar also said the censure vote was an issue of workplace safety. “The presence of many of my colleagues on the Republican side has made us feel less safe,” she said.
McCarthy has largely defended Gosar in comments to reporters this week.
“He didn’t see [the video] before it posted. It was not his intent to show any harm,” McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday. “What I said to the conference was, [we] cannot accept any action or showing of a violence to another member.”
McCarthy has previously protected House Republicans despite pressure to reprimand them over their actions. Earlier this year, Democrats denounced Gosar over his connection to white nationalist Nick Fuentes. The lawmaker spoke at the America First Political Action conference, a far-right event led and attended by Fuentes, in February. Gosar was also pictured on a flyer of a fundraiser for Fuentes’ organization in June. But Gosar denied having any ties to Fuentes, and McCarthy dismissed the matter.
Gosar has been embroiled in other controversies in recent months, from claiming that the 2020 election was “stolen” to downplaying the violent January 6 insurrection. Gosar was criticized by lawmakers of both parties after he blamed the death of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt on police.
The rebuke also comes months after House Democrats voted to strip fellow far-right lawmaker Greene from her committee assignments in February. That vote came in response to the Georgia congresswoman’s past support on social media for right-wing conspiracy theories and political violence. McCarthy, at the time, accused Democrats of a “partisan power grab.”