Sen. Josh Hawley is being branded a traitor for his clinched-fist salute to President Donald Trump‘s supporters before they stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday afternoon.
Hawley was the first U.S. senator who said he would join a group of House Republicans to object to Electoral College results in key swing states – a process that had commenced when rioters broke into and ransacked the Capitol for several hours.
Hawley, Sen. Ted Cruz and the other dozen U.S. senators who had planned to object – which would delay the certification of President-elect Joe Biden‘s win for hours – have still not said whether they planned to give it up on the heels of the Capitol attack.
Sen. Josh Hawley has been branded a traitor for his clinched-fist salute to President Donald Trump’s supporters before they clashed with police and stormed the U.S. Capitol
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said that the image of Sen. Josh Hawley raising his fist in support would become a ‘symbol of sedition’
Hawley was also photographed giving Trump supporters a thumbs up. That crowd would later break inside the Capitol Building in a violent siege that lasted hours
Hawley was the first senator to announce he would sign on to a House GOP challenge of certain states’ Electoral College vote counts
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted the image of Hawley and called on the Missouri Republican to ‘resign immediately’
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier set up around the U.S. Capitol Building to protect lawmakers as they certify the Electoral College results
Democratic Coalition co-founder Scott Dworkin said Hawley ‘needs to be arrested for his treason’
Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol and were given a show of support from Hawley before breaking into the building in a chaotic display for several hours Wednesday
Hawley did put out a statement commending law enforcement who kept senators safe.
‘Thank you to the brave law enforcement officials who have put their lives on the line,’ his office tweeted around 4:30 p.m. ‘The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted, and Congress must get back to work and finish its job.’
Hawley also sent out a fundraising plea as the chaos kicked off, according to the Kansas City Star.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, told Capitol Hill reporters that he didn’t believe there would be additional objections to Biden’s Electoral College count.
On Twitter, the picture of Hawley, outside the Capitol Building with a raised left fist quickly circulated.
‘The picture (among many) we will all remember from what we’ve witnessed today @HawleyMO – you are @realDonaldTrump’s symbol of this sedition,’ tweeted former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who’s a Trump critic.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shared the image too.
‘None of today’s violence happens without the seditious actions of @HawleyMo,’ de Blasio wrote. ‘He sparked a violent incident that endangered lives and threatened the sanctity of our democracy just to further his own political ambitions.’
‘He doesn’t deserve his seat. He should resign immediately,’ de Blasio said.
Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, called Hawley the ‘leader of the insurrection.’
Shaub added that the Missouri Republican inspired ‘traitors, vandals thugs, and rioters everywhere.’
‘Senator Josh Hawley is the epitome of a privileged American upbringing and education, and look how he has paid it back to our society,’ historian Michael Beschloss tweeted.
Democratic Coalition co-founder Scott Dworkin said Hawley ‘needs to be arrested for his treason.’
For weeks, President Donald Trump has misled his supporters into believing that his election loss could be overturned by Congress.
Lawmakers are able to object, debate and then vote on states’ tallies – but the votes for that effort to be successful simply weren’t there, nor does Congress truly have the power to overrule the Electoral College count, most scholars believe.
For this reason, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell begged members of his caucus not to join House GOP efforts to object to the results – as a House member and a senator are both needed to move the process forward.
Before rioters broke into the Capitol Wednesday, McConnell made a floor speech saying just as much.
‘We’re debating a step that has neve been taken in American history, whether Congress should overrule the voters and overtrun a presidential election,’ McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican discouraged the objections because there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, as Trump has falsely claimed.
‘But my colleagues nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election,’ McConnell argued. ‘Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break, when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.’
Lawmakers appeared ready to restart the Electoral College certification once Trump supporters were removed by police from the U.S. Capitol.