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House Debates Rep. Gosar Censure Over Violent Video; House Voting on Motion to Censure Rep. Gosar Over Violent Anime Video. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 15:30   ET



MADAME SPEAKER: We all know him from Louisiana, Mr. Higgins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman is recognized for two minutes.

REP. CLAY HIGGINS (R-LA): Madame Speaker, America is being crushed under the oppressive weight of the Democrats' greed for lust and power. They want totalitarian control over every aspect of American life, and their rule in the people's House as if they were royalty.

America is dissolving under our feet and Democrats are worried about cartoons. In Afghanistan, Democrats led the betrayal of American honor, and the abandonment of American citizens, granted control of the Afghan theater to Taliban terrorists, and arming those jihadist terrorists with billions of dollars' worth of American weapons system.

Our southern border control has disintegrated, American sovereignty is lost and control of our own border, completely ceded to criminal cartels.

American parents are tracked like terrorists and persecuted by our own FBI because parents had the audacity to challenge government indoctrination of their children, assembling to address their grievances at their own school boards in their own communities. American parents treated like criminals.

Americans are dealing with unbelievable inflation. Families cannot afford groceries and fuel, and millions of Americans are being commanded by federal decree to choose between losing a job or kneeling to comply with an unconstitutional mandated medical procedure.

And the oppressors intend to distract you with cartoons over the Speaker's podium or forever etch the words in God we trust. Scripture says a friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity. I stand with my brother Paul Gosar today because I stand against oppression and persecution.

Madame Speaker, I yield.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I yield one minute to (INAUDIBLE) committee member from New York. MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for one minute.

REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): Madame Speaker not since the Civil War has Congress operated under the constant threat of violence from some of its own members, but here we are.

That is the behavior that Mr. Gosar has encouraged. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised having watched so many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle incite, and then express support for the insurrectionists who nearly killed us in this chamber on January 6th.

We cannot let the Republican Party make Congress the only workplace in America where violence against your coworkers is not a crime but a credential.

If we don't hold people like Mr. Gosar accountable, we will only embolden the worst people in our politics to bring their fever dreams to life. That is why today we are standing up for the safety of our colleagues, for the safety of Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and for the future of our democracy. Madame Speaker, I yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Speaker, I'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Gohmert.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlemen is recognized for two minutes.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): Thank you, Madame Speaker. I looked at the video anime and was trying to figure out -- I couldn't see, I'm told if you stop it frame by frame you can see what Democrat friends are talking about. I couldn't see it. I tried to freeze frame and I saw what I was told was supposed to be our colleague, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. I was insulted for her if that's supposed to be her, that's really unfair. But I didn't see the violence being talk about.

We should not condone violence. But the reason it's so hard to sit here and listen to the condemnation from the other side, Madame Speaker, is because when there was violence against us, there was no condemnation.

My wife and I went to a speech at the White House, and I have yet to hear anybody condemn the attempted violence on us. We were chased for two blocks. Now Ron Paul was on TV when he was chased because he had cameras and Secret Service around. We didn't have that.

And if it weren't for a guy popping up and opening a locked door, we would have -- I told Kathy, look, I'm afraid they're going to get here before this door is opened. You run on down to Pennsylvania, there are cops down there. They'll be beating on me. You just get away. Nobody's condemned all that violence that I've ever heard. This is where we ought to be able to come together.


Oh, and by the way, people that committed violence did crimes in this building need to be punished but for many of them, the most serious crime was obstructing an official session of Congress.

Well, it turns out, I didn't know it was a crime in 2016, but most of the Democratic Party committed a felony right here in this chamber by obstructing an official session of Congress not six hours like January 6th but 26 hours.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman's time has expired.

GOHMERT: -- let's come together and agree on what is really violent crime.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida is recognized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lady from California.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Thank you very much, Madame Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to thank Congressman Speier for her leadership, as well as Chairman Deutch and the Speaker for bringing this with urgency.

Representative Gosar used taxpayer funded resources to publicize a cartoon of him killing one of our House colleagues, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and threatening to kill the President. When Republicans don't condemn death threats against their colleagues and the President, it sends a message to the public that these threats are condoned. Their silence and misrepresentation in light of these threats speaks volumes.

Now it might be easy for Mr. Gosar to shrug this off as joke, but it's not only members of Congress but women and people of color throughout the country who daily deal with the threat of physical violence. This is no laughing matter.

As someone who for decades have had to live with death threats, this is a moment when we need to say enough is enough. Hate speech leads to hate violence. Death threats can lead to death. Threats to murder people can lead to criminal charges.

This resolution, I tell you, this is the minimum we need to do. It reinforces that this behavior will not be tolerated. So, I urge my colleagues to support this resolution, and I yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Speaker, I'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for two minutes.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Thank you, gentlelady for yielding.

Madame Speaker, as we speak, the FBI is treating parents as terrorists. The Department of Justice is getting ready to pay people $450,000 who illegally entered our country and Democrats in Congress later this week plan to spend 2 trillion more dollars which will we all know will only exacerbate the already 30-year high inflation.

And what are they doing today, censuring a member for a cartoon. You got to be kidding me. You have got to be kidding.

The attack -- what scares me most about all of this is the attack that we have seen on the First Amendment over the last year from the left, from the Democrat Party. They're attacking moms for standing up and speaking out at school board meetings. They're stopping Americans and there are still places in this country where a full congregation cannot meet on a Sunday morning, stopping Americans from exercising their First Amendment freedom of religious rights.

Forever, the Speaker of the House stopped Americans from petitioning their member of Congress to redress their grievances, wouldn't even let them in their own capitol.

And now here we go again, censuring speech, the most fundamental liberty we have is our right to speak, our right to talk, our right to communicate, and they're going after that today. Because they don't like freedom. You can see it. They don't like it. This is wrong. We know it's wrong. What they're doing to our colleague, Mr. Gosar is wrong and I hope, I hope they will have second thoughts and we will vote this down. I yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I yield a minute and 15 seconds to ethics committee member from Minnesota, Mr. Phillips.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for 1 minute and 15 seconds.

DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): Thank you Madame Speaker, I love freedom. I love George Washington. I keep this book on my desk "George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior." I encourage every colleague in this body, every one of us, keep this on your desk, refer to it.

I've heard everything talked about today, inflation, Afghanistan, schools, except the issue we're here for, a censure of a member of Congress who issued a despicable video showing the killing of a fellow member of Congress.

Worst of all, most despicable of all, was the object of the censure said it was to attract a new generation. Think about that. To attract a new generation of Americans. We got to do better, my friends. Come on.

And to my friend from Virginia who said if Democrats had done this, what would we do, rest assured, my friends, every one of you, we would do the same thing because I will never ever, ever, ever allow a fellow member of Congress to threaten or distribute a video showing the killing of one of us let alone another American. With that I yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Speaker, I'm pleased to yield one minute

to the gentlewoman from Colorado. Mrs. Boebert.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.


LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Thank you, Madame Speaker. Democrat policies are so pathetic and have done so poorly, that the left has nothing to do but troll the internet looking for ways to get offended and then try to target members and strip them of their committees.

This is a dumb waste of the House's time. But since the Speaker has designated the floor to discuss members inappropriate actions, shall we. The jihad squad member from Minnesota has paid her husband and not her brother husband, the other one, over a million dollars in campaign funds.

This member is allowed on the Foreign Affairs Committee while praising terrorists. A Democrat chairwoman incited further violence in the streets outside of a courthouse. And then the cherry on top, my colleague and three-month presidential candidate from California who is on the Intelligence Committee slept with Fang Fang, a Chinese spy. Let me say that again, a member of Congress who received classified briefings --

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady's time is expired. Gentleman from Florida.

BOEBERT: -- sleeping with the enemy, this is unacceptable and this would never be --

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady's time is expired. Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Madame Speaker, I yield one minute to ethics committee member from Pennsylvania Ms. Wild.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): As Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Despite Paul Gosar's history of dangerous rhetoric, and despite his conduct showing him to be a dangerous extremist, he is still here in Congress. Now he has depicted himself killing one of our colleagues and the President of the United States. Never doubt that leaders' calls for violence can lead to actual violence. We've seen it throughout the world. And we've seen it right here on January 6th.

Nor should the actions of his taxpayer paid staff in creating and disseminating this vile video be ignored. They are grown adults, and they have cultivated a hostile work environment for the subject of this disgusting video and for her staff.

Paul Gosar has glorified violence against a duly elected official who came here to serve her district. She nor any of us signed up for this kind of abuse. Our families should not have to live with the fear that we be subject to violent attacks.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady's time has expired.

WILD: -- Paul Gosar has shown who he is. Believe him, censure him.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady's time has expired. Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Speaker, I'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Rice.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for two minutes.

REP. TOM RICE (R-SC): Thank you, madame Speaker. With so many real problems facing Americans, created by the Biden administration, open borders, soaring gas prices, sky high grocery bills, and our embarrassment in Afghanistan, my friends across the aisle assemble us here today to debate a cartoon.

Political cartoons routinely depict violence. It's not new. Cartoons have depicted violence since there were cartoons. If you don't believe me, google political cartoons, 2021, you'll see a depiction of Joe Biden killing a Republican with a steamroller. A Republican elephant trampling voters among many others.

Now, I'll ask all of you out there to watch the Gosar cartoon that is occupying the floor of the United States Congress for over an hour today. Is it inappropriate? Yes. Childish, of course. Stupid, without question. But is it a threat? Absolutely not.

Now, I know some members may need to seek therapy because they saw this cartoon. But is it a threat? Absolutely not. I yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, madame Speaker, I yield one minute to the assistant Speaker, Ms. Clark.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): Thank you for yielding. It started with a white supremacist online fringe movement and it turned into a deadly January 6th insurrection, and now I stand before you because a member of this body has once again had her life threatened. But this time, by a colleague who posted a video of killing her on his official account. Think of that.

And it's no coincidence that the recipients of this violence are most often women and women of color because this violence is directly connected to sexism and racism. We cannot and must not accept this behavior. And silence and excuse is condoning it, and the excuses we have heard today.


This is OK because it's highly stylized killing. It's a cartoon. It was some sort of youth outreach -- are grotesque. Enough is enough. Vote for this resolution. Vote for censure. Vote for decency.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Speaker, I reserve.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady reserves. Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madame Speaker, I yield one minute to the vice caucus chair Mr. Aguilar of California.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for one minute.

PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): I thank the chairman. When an armed mob stormed the Capitol earlier this year, they did so under the belief that political violence was an acceptable means to an end.

As leaders and as members of this body, every one of us has a responsibility to stand up and to make clear that way of thinking is unacceptable. We have a responsibility here to work together to keep our colleagues, our staff, and all of the people who work in this building safe. That goal becomes more difficult when members are making open threats of violence on social media.

It is not acceptable for a member of the House to insinuate that they want to violently kill a member, and we need to directly respond to this threat.

Today we have a chance to send a strong unified bipartisan message against this kind of conduct. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on the resolution to ensure accountability and recommit ourselves to the safety of every member and the future member of this body, thank you, yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana.


MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madame Speaker, I yield one minute to the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, Mr. Jeffreys.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for one minute.

HAKEEM JEFFREYS (D-NY): I rise in strong support of this censure resolution, inciting violence is unacceptable. Threatening to kill a colleague, the President of the United States, or any American is unacceptable.

And I rise to make it clear that we have an opportunity today to choose decency over demonization, to choose civility over cynicism, to choose the rule of law over recklessly violent behavior. That is why the House of Representatives is acting and acting decisively.

We cannot normalize violence today. We cannot normalize violence tomorrow. We cannot normalize violence at any point moving forward in our future. The House will hold Paul Gosar accountable for his violent and deplorable behavior, whether the cover up caucus likes it or not. Vote yes on this censure resolution.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Speaker I reserve.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madame Speaker, I yield 45 seconds to Ms. Leger Fernandez.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized 45 seconds.

REP. TERESA LEGER FERNANDEZ (D-NM): Madame Speaker, serving in public office is and should be a sacred responsibility, and that responsibility calls upon us to condemn hate when we see it. If we let hate fester and spread, it will destroy us.

That's why one in three women have been attacked violently in this country and around the world. But instead of apologizing today, Republicans chose to vilify immigrants yet again.

Which is an outrage when the victim is herself a Latina. Remember the gunman who traveled to El Paso to kill Mexicans after Republican politicians demonized them.

Scripture says love thy neighbor as thyself, and we must also love this institution. It is the love for this institution, the love for our fellow members, which is calling upon us to pass this resolution.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no further speakers, I'll reserve.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentlelady from Indiana is recognized to close.

REP. JACKIE WALORSKI (R-IN) Thank you. I absolutely reject violence and calls for violence against any member of Congress or anyone else. But by rushing this vote to the floor today and ignoring the process the majority is setting a precedent that I fear may not serve this institution well in the future.

The majority should withdraw this resolution, and if it chooses, pursue this matter properly through law enforcement or/and the ethics committee. If the resolution is not withdrawn then I'm going to vote no and hope at some point that the ethics committee will once again serve this body as it was intended. I ask my colleagues to vote no and I yield back.

MADAME SPEAKER: Gentleman from Florida.

REP. TED DEUTSCH (D-FL): Madame Speaker, none of us want to be here today, revisiting the violent imagery, the vile hateful content that Representative Gosar delighted in disseminating over his official social media accounts, material defended over and over again today by our colleagues.


Had Republican leadership acted as it should to hold their own members accountable when they breach the most basic standards of decorum and decency, we wouldn't be here.

The House cannot ignore Representative Gosar's conduct as Republicans would have us do. January 6th must serve as a reminder of just how important this action is we're about to take. On January 6th, violence stoked by hateful imagery and inflammatory rhetoric over social media found its way to the steps of the United States Capitol and the doors of this chamber.

On that day, insurrectionists broke windows right near where I stand. Capitol Police officers drew their weapons. Members bravely blocked their entrance. Heroes valiantly repelled the attack on our democracy.

On this day, with our votes on this resolution, let us reject the notion that it is ever acceptable for a member of Congress to threaten the safety of a fellow member to depict the murder of a fellow member. Let this resolution serve as an unwavering statement that never in this House should the type of horrific violent imagery be deemed acceptable.

Madam Speaker, I would ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to smash the partisan lens through which they view this behavior and this debate. And I would ask all of my colleagues to support safety and civility and decency by voting for House Resolution 789. I yield back the balance of my time.

MADAME SPEAKER: Pursuant to House Resolution 795, the previous question is ordered on the resolution and the preamble is amended. The question now occurs on agreeing to the resolution. All in favor say aye.


MADAME SPEAKER: Opposed, no.


MADAME SPEAKER: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. Gentlelady from Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Speaker, I ask for the ayes and nays.

MADAME SPEAKER: Pursuant to Section 3S of House Resolution 8, the yeas and nays are ordered and members will record their votes by electronic device.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK. We have been listening and watching members of the House of Representatives and leadership on both sides make their very vociferous cases for and against the censure of Congressman Paul Gosar for tweeting out that violent animated video of his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, let's bring in now to discuss

CNN senior political analyst John Avlon, CNN political commentators S.E. Cupp and Bakari Sellers and CNN's political director David Chalian.

John, I'm going to start with you. You're sitting right next to me here. We've been waiting for Leader McCarthy to say something about this. What we heard from him -- I wrote it down here. Rules for thee, but not for me, maybe, two dozen times. Your thoughts.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That was a campaign speech by, you know, Leader McCarthy, who desperately wanted to make, as his colleagues did, this vote not about the core question, which is, is it OK to threaten a colleague's life? That's the question.

That's why Gosar is on the verge of being the 24th person censured in the history of the House. There were other arguments made about process, about precedent but at core, that's it.

And, of course, the context matters after January 6th. The precedent matters. Because folks have been censured for everything from Charlie Rangel over tax and ethical implications to insulting a speaker to attacking a colleague on the floor.

At core, all that noise boils down to this. Is it all right to threaten the life of a colleague, especially after January 6th? That is what this is about. Nothing else.

CAMEROTA: S.E., we heard many of the Republicans try to make the case that -- as we were just talking about -- there's a double standard and that for instance, Maxine Waters had said something that they considered inflammatory but didn't face these kinds of repercussions. Do you think that that's a good analogy? What do you make of that argument?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If your argument is that it's hypocritical, you should be arguing for Gosar to be censured. And then say, and also Maxine Waters and we want Democrats to apply the same standard. And, therefore, we're going to censure Gosar.

But it was stunning how hard Republicans worked to avoid saying what is simple and takes zero courage. Which, of course, is that members of Congress should not tweet out violent death fantasy videos about other members of Congress. Period.

Instead, what I think Republicans did from Kevin McCarthy to Lauren Boebert to, you know, on down is give Democrats in 2022 a campaign video.


I mean, each one of them standing up there and in some ridiculous, ludicrous way managing to defend despicable video using as John says, you know, prop arguments.

You know, one member of Congress, Congressman Biggs, even saying he was sort of an expert in anime and don't worry, this is violent but very stylized violence. I mean, it was preposterous.

The easy thing would have been to say, absolutely, he shouldn't do it. We shouldn't set this precedent, good-bye. And instead, Republicans completely unwilling to do that. Really gave a lot of material to voters wondering, OK, who -- where is this party now and what do they stand for? This. This is what they stand for.

BLACKWELL: Well, David, maybe not for the base there in this district in Arizona. We know that potentially a censure for a video like this could be a badge of honor going after AOC, after the President in this climate in this time, in the Republican Party.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's certainly true. And I mean what I think we just saw on display, I mean, just how sad that this is where our politics are right now. This is the United States House of Representatives. The people's House where they're supposed to represent the people of their districts and pass legislation to help benefit their lives and the life of the country. And this is where we are.

And it was like two totally different planets in how the parties were approaching this issue. It seems like given all the caveats every Republican said which is like, well, I don't condone violence. Like if you have to put that up front of your statement then to go on and defend Gosar and not want the censure, it seems you're actually all in agreement which is that this was totally an out of bounds, inappropriate thing for a member of Congress to do.

So, you know, what are you going to do about it then? Because here's this resolution to censure him. It seems to me that the Republicans are still trying to figure out -- to S.E.'s point -- how to police themselves as a party and present themselves as potentially a majority party come next year in this country to voters.

And they've got to figure out the former, sort of how to police themselves before they'll be able to cross that threshold into the latter. It seems these kinds of headaches can be piling up on a potential future Speaker McCarthy's desk.

CAMEROTA: Bakari, we heard Congressman Paul Gosar, there speak himself. He did not apologize to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He did say he sent that out in an effort to have an important policy discussion about immigration. As Victor pointed out to me while we were watching, why did he put AOC's face in it then, if this is an important immigration discussion?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, because she's a brown face. but I just think that Representative Gosar is beneath the dignity of office and so I don't want to spend too much time talking about him. Although the censure is about him.

But what I saw today, actually was -- I thought it was fascinating. I actually thought that the political arguments that the Republican party were making about, you know, the issues that are facing the country and we're here debating this particular issue, a cartoon. I thought the arguments they were making, although somewhat disingenuous would go over well with the base, would go over well with individuals who may be in the middle.

I thought Democrats were making a great argument that this is a narrow issue. And then when Lauren Boebert got up there, I thought it all just went to hell. Watching her speak and watching the tone and tenor, it snapped me back to reality. It made me realize and recognize why we're here.

Boebert and Gosar are members of the Republican Party, period. And the fact that those two cancerous members of the party can go to the well of the United States Congress, speaks volumes. That's the issue that Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans have to deal with. The fact that they have members who -- I mean in the terms of great South Carolinians, just, bless their heart.

BLACKWELL: John, on the other end of the spectrum in the party, you've got some of the moderates who voted to impeach the President. Fred Upton, one of them saying he goes too far. He would have supported a censure but thought that the committee pull was too much.

AVLON: That's right. And I think that's where reasonable Republicans can make an argument. Not only on free speech or process grounds or the ethics committee but what's the precedent about removing people from their committees do?

If this was a clean censure vote, would they have done it differently?

And you heard Leader McCarthy say that basically threaten to remove Democrats from their own committees when and if the Republicans take power. So that's one of the decisions that may have downstream consequences.

But at the end of the day, this should be a simple vote. Do you support threatening to kill your colleagues? Yes or no.

CAMEROTA: Yes. The slippery slope argument was a tough one since we're pretty far down that slope.

AVLON: Yes, we are.

CAMEROTA: All right. Bakari Sellers, S.E. Cupp, David Chalian, John Avlon, thank you so much for sticking with us and watching all of that.

BLACKWELL: And we're watching the vote count now. We know there will be several Republicans who will vote to support the resolution.