Sen. Hawley files ethics complaint against Dems who linked him to Capitol riot

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Sen. Josh Hawley on Monday filed an ethics complaint against the seven Democrats who last week filed one against him and Sen. Ted Cruz seeking their “expulsion or censure” for objecting to the presidential election results.

The Missouri Republican — who in a Post op-ed Sunday decried the muzzling of viewpoints through “cancel culture” — objected to certification of President Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania shortly after a mob of then-President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Hawley wrote to the Senate Ethics Committee that his seven accusers “filed an unprecedently frivolous and improper ethics complaint against me and Senator Cruz.”

He wrote his objection was “a lawful process” invoked previously by Democrats and that “my objection rested on far more solid ground than the electoral college objections submitted by Democrat Members of Congress after the 2000, 2004 and 2016 elections.”

Hawley wrote that “[b]y knowingly submitting a frivolous complaint to accomplish
impermissible partisan purposes, these Senators have engaged in improper conduct that may reflect upon the Senate. The Committee should discipline these Members to ensure that the Senate’s ethics process is not weaponized for rank partisan purposes.”

Cruz objected to Arizona’s electors to Biden before the Capitol break-in that resulted in the deaths of four Trump supporters and one police officer. When debate resumed, Hawley objected to Pennsylvania’s electors for Biden, forcing a debate.

The Democratic senators last week requested an ethics probe of Hawley and Cruz (R-Texas), saying they “lent legitimacy to President Trump’s false statements about election fraud” and “continued to amplify the claims of fraud that they likely knew to be baseless and that had led to violence earlier that day.”

The Democrats wrote that “[b]y continuing to object to the electors after the insurrection, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause.”

Hawley, 41, is a Stanford University and Yale Law School graduate and former clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He gave a fist pump to a then-peaceful group of Trump supporters at the Capitol hours before the building was ransacked.

Before throngs of Trump backers marched from near the White House to the Capitol, Hawley told The Post that he did not believe his objection would overturn the election results — as Trump had insisted was possible.

“I think there’s no votes for that, I mean, at all,” Hawley told The Post, saying he instead wanted to force a debate on alleged election irregularities.

The ethics complaint against Cruz and Hawley has divided Democrats. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California last week told a reporter, “I think the Senate is a place of freedom, and people come here to speak their piece.”

The Cruz-led Arizona election objection was premised on a federal court-ordered extension of a voter registration deadline. Biden won Arizona by about 10,000 votes. Hawley’s Pennsylvania objection focused prominently on a state court’s ruling that mail-in ballots could arrive days after Election Day. Biden won there by about 82,000 votes.

Both objections were soundly defeated.

Hawley wrote in his ethics complaint that the seven Democrats’ complaint linking him to the rioters “would constitute defamation per se” in “most jurisdictions.”

Democrats accusing Hawley and Cruz of misconduct are Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Hawley also sent a letter to his accusers Monday, writing, “In light of the shameful abuse of the ethics process you have deliberately engaged in, I have considered whether I should call for you to resign or be expelled from the Senate. But I continue to believe in the First Amendment, which the US Supreme Court has repeatedly said protects even “offensive” and malicious speech, such as yours.”

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