Missouri’s biggest newspaper calls for US senator Josh Hawley to be investigated over possible role in Capitol riot

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The largest newspaper in Missouri has called for one of the state’s US senators to be promptly investigated by a congressional panel over his alleged role in the Jan 6 riot at the US Capitol.

More than 10 months after the Senate ethics committee said it was to probe the actions of Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Texas’s Ted Cruz for their alleged encouragement to supporters of Donald Trump seeking to overturn the 2020 election, there has been little outward sign of progress.

Several times, however, both Mr Cruz and Mr Hawley have defended their actions that day, with the Missouri senator - famously pictured raising a fist in a display of his backing of supporters of Mr Trump hours before they stormed the building - saying he had “no regrets”.

On Sunday, his state’s largest circulation newspaper, the St Louis Post-Dispatch, called on the ethics panel to move ahead with its investigation of the 41-year-old Republican.

“Hawley and Cruz were the first two senators to object to certification of Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election results, citing (with zero evidence) supposed concerns about the election’s integrity,” said an editorial.

“That was the same baseless, toxic nonsense then-president Donald Trump had been spewing since before the election. Such talk whipped up the mob of Trump loyalists to attack the Capitol on Jan 6.”

It said Mr Hawley had claimed the committee would treat him unfairly, even though he had the right to object.

It added: “Hawley and Cruz have the right to defend themselves from the allegations — but so far, they haven’t even had to. The ethics committee should stop sitting on this.”

The two senators were among more than 150 Republican politicians who refused to certify the victory of Mr Biden, repeating Mr Trump’s false claims that the election had been rigged.

As the newspaper noted, Mr Hawley, one of two Republican senators representing the state and who was elected in 2018 after previously serving as its attorney general, was the very first politician to say they would not certify the victory, usually a mundane process that raises little drama.

The newspaper said: “Hawley was the first senator to object to certification, which is the only reason there had to be a floor vote on the issue.”

It added: “That vote provided the rallying point for the mob. Without that, the attack might not have even happened.”

Mr Hawley’s office did not respond to questions from The Independent about the editorial or his actions that day.

The senator, who is seen by many as representing a new generation of Republican politicians and one potentially with ambitions for a presidential run himself, has previously defended his behaviour.

“I waved to them, gave them the thumbs-up, pumped my fist to them and thanked them for being there, and they had every right to do that,” Mr Hawley told the Washington Post back in May.

He said he did not regret acting as he had, and said many of those present that day as part of a “stop the steal” protest behaved peacefully.

He said not everyone was responsible for the storming of the Capitol, an incident that left five people dead, including a US Capitol Police officer who died of a stroke the day after he was injured.

Missouri senator part of younger generation of GOP legislators (Getty Images)
Missouri senator part of younger generation of GOP legislators (Getty Images)

More than 700 people have been charged with various offences relating to that day.

“I don’t know which of those protesters, if any of them, those demonstrators, participated in the criminal riot,” Mr Hawley said.

“And I think it’s a slur on the thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people who came to the Capitol that day to demonstrate peacefully to lump them in with the criminal rioters and say, ‘Oh, you’re all basically the same’.”

In addition to the Senate ethics committee’s investigation, a special investigation has been launched by a House panel into the day’s events and the potential role of then-advisers to the president, among them Steven Bannon, who was recently criminally indicted for failing to respond to the committee’s calls for cooperation.

Around 20 members of Mr Trump’s circle, among them chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, have been called on to give evidence.

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