The House of Representatives will vote today on whether or not to censure Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar after he shared an animated video on social media that depicted him engaging in violence against members of the Democratic Party.
Gosar’s altered video depicts him as the hero who battles the Titans alongside the altered images of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, two freshmen Republicans in Congress who support QAnon conspiracy theories and have often broken safety rules.
An animated version of Gosar, armed with swords, then appears with the title “attack of immigrants” and the cartoon video then depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden with swords.
The House will vote on a resolution that both censures Rep. Gosar and removes him from the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Oversight Committee, a panel on which he serves alongside Ocasio-Cortez, who was featured in the controversial video.
Ocasio-Cortez, widely known by her initials AOC, said while she believes members who threaten their colleagues should face the most severe consequences, including expulsion, but she approved of the censure.
“Threatening the life of a colleague is grounds for expulsion,” the progressive New York Democrat said. “But given the Republican Party—especially the leader—is too cowardly to really enforce any standard of conduct … censure and committee removal is the next most appropriate step.”
Gosar would be only the 24th House member in history to be censured and the first in more than a decade but he has been unrepentant although he did remove the tweet.
“For this cartoon, some in Congress suggest I should be punished in some fashion,” Gosar said in a statement tweeted by journalist Ben Jacobs. “For a cartoon.”
“While the degree of punishment differs, this is the same sentiment expressed against the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France in 2015 that was punished for publishing a cartoon – resulting in a real-life massacre of 12 real live people,” Gosar added.
Republicans warned Democrats that punishing those who serve in the minority could set a precedent they will use if and when the GOP takes power, while observers note that only one party engaged in a violent attempt to overthrow the election results, spread hateful and violent conspiracy theories, or carried guns on the House floor.
Earlier this year, the House Democrats—along with 11 Republicans—stripped Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her assignments on the Budget panel and the Education and Labor Committee over such incendiary comments as calling on supporters to physically injure Democrats and berating a Florida school shooting survivor who urged Congress to approve legislation to reduce gun violence.
Although she pretended to apologize when she was punished, Greene subsequently tweeted out the office phone numbers of 13 Republican lawmakers who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and received death threats for helping Biden score a legislative victory.
“This is a dark and dangerous road the majority is going down,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee. “I urge you for the future of the chamber to rethink this course.”
Gosar posted the video with a note saying, “Any anime fans out there?” The roughly 90-second video was an altered version of a Japanese anime clip, interspersed with shots of Border Patrol officers and migrants at the southern U.S. border.
During a closed-door GOP conference meeting, the first gathering of House Republicans since the video was posted during the Veterans Day recess last week, Gosar defended the photoshopped anime he shared on social media.
The swift action from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team comes after Gosar was criticized by both Democrats and some Republicans for his violent cartoon.
Gosar later deleted the tweet containing the video and issued a tepid statement that explained his rationale but did not apologize. That explanation followed a call from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Two GOP representatives, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, signaled that they would support censuring Gosar but large majorities of Republicans have abandoned civility and patriotism in a frenzied .
Some Republicans on the far right, meanwhile, are pushing to take away committee assignments from the 13 House GOP lawmakers who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this month.
McCarthy indicated that he doesn’t think those 13 Republicans should face retribution for their actions but he is not rallying support for the measure to sanction a member of his caucus.