Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will have to appear in front of a “secretive” Senate ethics panel, according to Politico, over allegations that “two senators played a role in inciting the violent Capitol attack,” by objecting to certifying presidential electors from several key states.
The Senate Ethics Committee, which Politico describes as “one of the most secretive committees in Congress” will review the cases against both Hawley and Cruz after several leading Democrats made an official ethics complaint to committee head, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) on January 21st.
The group complained that “[w]hile Congress was debating Senator Cruz’s objection [to certifying specific electors], a violent mob stormed the Capitol. These insurrectionists ransacked the building, stole property, and openly threatened Members of Congress and the Vice President”
Although it does not appear either Cruz or Hawley made reference to the attacks, nor that either had prior knowledge of plans to storm the United States Capitol and disrupt the Senate’s business, the seven complainants, including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-MA), claim that by merely “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 group demanded a full investigation into whether Cruz or Hawley had any prior knowledge of the incident, whether they knew of plans for the attack, whether they knew of any fellow members of Congress who were helping plan or facilitate the attack, and whether either they or their staffs engaged in “criminal conduct, unethical, or improper” behavior.
“Further investigation is necessary to develop a complete account of Senators Cruz and Senator Hawley’s involvement in the events of January 6,” they claimed. “Because several of the House members who objected to the electors coordinated with the organizers of the ‘Save America’ rally, it is not unreasonable to assume that Senators Cruz and Hawley may also have been involved.”
Former President Donald Trump, who was impeached a second time over his alleged role in “inciting an insurrection,” will likely have a Senate trial where his involvement in the January 6th Capitol attack will be analyzed, in public and under a time limit. Cruz and Hawley, Politico explains, will be subject to an open-ended process.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who signed the original complaint, said the purpose of bringing their concerns to the ethics committee was so that the group could “conduct whatever investigation…that they need to, without a time limit on how they do it. And Cruz and Hawley have to have a fair forum to present their own thoughts about what happened.”
The committee includes members from both parties — something that should give Cruz and Hawley some measure of comfort — and most Republicans object to using the committee to investigate an official Congressional action.
“It’s a very slippery slope if you start punishing senators for holding unpopular views and exercising their rights on the Senate floor,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Politico. “That’s not what I think of the Ethics Committee as being for. I don’t see how this is an ethics complaint.”