House censures GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, strips committee assignments over anime video of attack on AOC

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The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to censure Rep. Paul Gosar and strip him from his committee assignments by a tally of 223 to 207, with one member voting present, after outrage over an animated cartoon he posted of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted for the resolution, and Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio voted “present.”

“People look up to us. They take our lead. So, when a member posts a video of himself killing a colleague, that’s obviously going to have an impact on the way people approach their politics. So, we cannot dismiss Rep. Gosar’s violent fantasies as a joke,” Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., said in House debate on the matter. “In this decade, in this America, someone’s going to take him seriously.”

The censure of Gosar marks the 24th time in House history the chamber censured one of its members. It is the first time the House has censured a member since 2010 when it censured Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., for ethics violations relating to campaign fundraising. Before that, two members were censured for sexual misconduct with a House page in 1983.  

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Department of Justice on July 27, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Department of Justice on July 27, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Is there a high school or a workplace in America that would do nothing,” in this kind of situation, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md, asked during floor debate on the resolution to censure Gosar. 

Gosar, R-Ariz., tweeted the cartoon that started the controversy last week. It used anime-style animation to depict him killing Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and show him attacking President Biden. It was made by his congressional staff. 

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Gosar said in a statement last week that the video was a “symbolic cartoon” about immigration policy. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters, Thursday, June 17, 2021, as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters, Thursday, June 17, 2021, as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“I do not espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden,” Gosar said. “The video depicts the fight taking place next week on the House floor and symbolizes the battle for the soul of America when Congress takes up Mr. Biden’s massive $4 trillion spending bill that includes amnesty for millions of illegal aliens already in our country and was not meant to depict any harm or violence against anyone portrayed in the anime.”

The three-page censure resolution cites the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as evidence that rhetoric like Gosar’s can lead to real threats and argues that woman legislators are more likely to receive threats and violence than men. The House Rules Committee on Wednesday, meanwhile, adopted an amendment to the resolution that will remove Gosar from the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. 

A House GOP aide told Fox News that although Gosar doesn’t have the best reputation in the conference, most members just can’t get behind the idea of booting him from committees.

“He’s not your mainstream Republican, a lot of people think he’s cooky,” the aide said. “He’s the type of Republican that’s far more a liability to the conference than an asset… There’s not much seriousness in his work.”

“We can’t just be kicking people off committees… it’s a slippery slope,” the GOP aide also said. “No one’s defending — most of the conference is not defending what he did.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., listens during a select committee meeting investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol at Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Raskin said that any school or workplace in the U.S. would punish a person who posted a video like Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., did of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., listens during a select committee meeting investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol at Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Raskin said that any school or workplace in the U.S. would punish a person who posted a video like Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., did of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A former aide of Gosar’s meanwhile, defended Gosar as “a smart person” and “a good person” who “just made some bad decisions.” 

Gosar is “not a whackado,” the former aide told Fox News. “But he represents a very far right district” and “has made the strategic decision to try to replicate Donald Trump’s bombastic style” because it’s “what the people want.” 

“But attempting to replicate Donald Trump is going to get you in trouble,” the former aide added. 

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“The video was certainly provocative and in my opinion inappropriate,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said on the House floor Wednesday as he led GOP debate against the resolution.

But, Cole added, Gosar addressed his rhetoric in a GOP conference meeting and deleted the tweet. Plus, the congressman said,  removing Gosar from his committees and censuring him would set a poor precedent. 

“Throughout the history of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority have respected the right of each of their conferences to assign their respective members to committees,” Cole said. “This continues to set an extremely…. dangerous precedent for future Congresses.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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