Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
Seven Senate Democrats are demanding that the Senate Committee on Ethics open an investigation into the actions of Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz for their actions related to the Jan. 6 violent insurrection against Congress.
The two "amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country," the Democrats write. The group — Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — notes that the Senate has the exclusive power to determine whether the members' actions violated Senate ethics rules. They are asking the Ethics Committee to carry out a "thorough and fair investigation and consider any appropriate consequences based on the Committee's findings."
"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 senators write. "While Congress was debating Senator Cruz's objection, a violent mob stormed the Capitol. These insurrectionists ransacked the building, stole property, and openly threatened Members of Congress and the Vice President." The two didn't just help incite the riot, the Democrats wrote, but "[b]y 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 senators write of their concern that members of Congress could have been involved in the coordination not just of the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, but the attack itself. They provide a detailed and well-researched account of the events of the day as well as the background to it, including the threats of violence that were leveled against officials prior to Jan. 6, threats incited by Trump's fraud claims and reinforced by Hawley and Cruz, who "lent legitimacy to President Trump's false statements about election fraud by announcing that they would object to the certification of electors on January 6."
These Democrats aren't messing around. "Both Senators Hawley and Cruz argued that the public perception of fraud justified their actions," they write. "This perception was created by President Trump's baseless claims, and was magnified by Sens. Cruz and Hawley's repetition of those claims. It is probable that Sens. Cruz and Hawley knew those claims to be false." They write that the "Senate has a duty to determine whether the actions of Senators Cruz and Hawley constitute 'improper conduct' or other violations of the Senate code of ethics," and that "Congress has the exclusive power to punish and expel its Members." They put an emphasis on that part, should the committee find the two culpable "under doctrines of conspiracy, aiding and abetting, accessory, or providing aid and comfort."
"The Committee should also offer recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered," they conclude. The letter was sent to Chairman Chris Coons and Ranking member James Lankford. This committee, at the moment, has a majority Democratic membership because a Republican replacement for the retired Pat Roberts. That vacancy gives Coons the chair even while Mitch McConnell is blocking the seating of new members and keeping Democrats from taking their majority positions.