The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate the actions of Senators Hawley and Cruz, and possibly others identified in the investigation, to protect the integrity, security and reputation of the Senate. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tim Kane of Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio wrote in the lawsuit.
The question the Senate must answer is not whether Senators Hawley and Cruz were entitled to an election objection, but whether the Senators failed to show loyalty to the highest moral principles and to the country beyond loyalty to individuals, the party, or the government department, or whether they engaged in improper conduct by voting in the Senate in connection with Sixth Amendment violence. January thought, the Democrats wrote, citing the Public Service Ethics Code and the Senate Ethics Manual.
In their letter to the panelists, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, the seven Senators also asked the committee to make disciplinary recommendations, including expulsion or reprimand.
In a statement Thursday, Mr. Hawley called the complaint a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a blatant attempt to retaliate against supporters.
Democrats seem determined to use every tool at their disposal – including unconstitutional impeachment – to further divide the country, the Missouri Republican said, referring to President Donald Trump’s House impeachment earlier this month, which will soon go before the Senate.
Cruz’s spokesman accused seven Democrats of playing political games by filing unfounded ethics complaints against their colleagues.
Sen. Cruz debated the bill and policy in the Senate, was joined by 11 other senators and used the appeals process that has been explicitly authorized by federal law for nearly 150 years, the spokesman said in a statement, adding that Cruz immediately addressed the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on Capitol Hill and called for the prosecution of anyone who invaded the Capitol to the fullest extent of the law.
The trial comes as authorities are investigating hundreds of people in connection with the murderous escapades on U.S. Capitol Hill, including possible ties to high-ranking Republicans who encouraged the process.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors said they were investigating all those involved in the outages, including Mr. Trump’s role in their dissemination. D.C. Attorney General Carl Racine warned Sunday that Trump could be charged by city prosecutors with up to six months in jail the day after the riots.
Hawley announced Dec. 30 that he would oppose the Electoral College certification process, challenging Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Nearly a dozen other Republican lawmakers, including Cruz, later announced that they, too, would oppose it. But some have changed their minds after the January 6 afternoon violence, which seven Democrats reported in their complaint.
The Democratic senators write that by making their objections known to voters after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley legitimized the mob’s cause and increased the likelihood of future violence.
Seven Democrats wrote Thursday that the Senate has the sole authority to determine whether the actions (of Hawley and Cruz) violated its ethics rules, investigate other actions that we don’t know violate those rules, and consider appropriate discipline.
They urged investigators to ask questions, including whether Hawley, Cruz or members of their offices or campaigns had been in contact or coordinated their activities with rally organizers, were aware of plans for the event, or had received funds from organizations or donors that had also funded the rally.
Whitehouse, one of seven Democrats, told CNN on Thursday afternoon that he sent the letter because we need to find out exactly what happened.
The only place this can be done effectively is in the Senate, because the executive branch cannot be trusted because it is on the wrong side of the separation of powers, he said.
Hawley, who reportedly has presidential ambitions for 2024, was primarily responsible for the actions that led thousands of Trump supporters to storm the Capitol Complex and force the emergency closure of the House and Senate. Hawley greeted the pro-Trump protesters outside the Capitol with a raised fist as he entered the Senate early that day.
The Simon & Schuster publishing house has abandoned its next book, which will now be published by conservative publisher Regnery Publishing. Several major companies, including Blue Cross and Citigroup, announced they were ending donations to Hawley and other Republicans who oppose the Electoral College vote. The luxury hotel chain Loews Hotel Group has since canceled its fundraiser for Hawley, saying it opposes anyone who supported and incited a deadly riot on Capitol Hill.
The Democratic senators’ complaint also quotes former Missouri Senator John Danforth, Hawley’s mentor, who told the New York Times that relying on Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen is a very destructive attack on our constitutional government.
Danforth, whose support was essential to Hawley’s victory in the 2018 Republican primary, called his support earlier this month the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life.
This story was updated with a statement from Senator Ted Cruz’s spokesman.
Manu Raju, Ali Zaslav, Dan Merica, Paul LeBlanc, Katelyn Polantz and Rebecca Grandal contributed to this report.
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