‘Hard to watch insurrectionist question witnesses’: Twitter erupts over Hawley appearance at Capitol probe

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Josh Hawley speaks at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill on February 23, 2021. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Josh Hawley speaks at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill on February 23, 2021. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley suffered fresh backlash online as he appeared at a hearing concerning the Capitol riot, which he is considered by some to have helped incite.

Mr Hawley took part in a joint hearing between the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules Committee where Senators interrogated former Capitol police chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee.

Referring to Mr Hawley, one Twitter user wrote that it was "hard to watch a traitorous insurrectionist attempt to question witnesses about his acts of sedition".

Mr Hawley became the first Senator to take up the mantle of then-President Donald Trump when Mr Hawley announced in late December that he would be challenging the results of the election during the congressional certification of the electoral college results.

One particular line of questioning from Mr Hawley that bothered many during the hearing was when he used words from retired General Russell Honoré to say that claims that those in charge of security at the Capitol building may have been complicit are “disrespectful” and “really quite shocking".

Mr Honoré said days after the riot on 6 January that former Capitol police chief Sund "did not have sufficient police on hand to protect the Capitol, which has led me to believe that there was some complicity on behalf of the Capitol police and that will come out in the investigation".

Mr Honoré has since been asked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate security failures at the Capitol.

One account holder called for Mr Hawley to be "charged with sedition and locked up".

Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University and a Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow, wrote that Mr Hawley "asking any questions at all is insulting".

HuffPost reporter Matt Fuller wrote that it was "pretty rich to watch Josh Hawley ask anything about" the 6 January insurrection.

Political scientist Norman Ornstein called Mr Hawley a "monster," and added that him "participating in a hearing on the police response to the insurrection he helped incite is a disgrace".

The judgement of Mr Hawley was harsh after he objected to the certification of the electoral college results, holding firm even after the Capitol had been ransacked by a Trump-supporting mob. Former Missouri Senator John Danforth said “supporting Josh and trying so hard to get him elected to the Senate was the worst mistake I ever made in my life”.

Rick Tyler, communications director for Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign, slammed both Mr Hawley and his former boss after the riot, telling NBC News: “It is not good enough to say you are representing the voters who believe the election was rigged when that assertion was based on lies and conspiracies that were thoroughly disproven by election officials, recounts, court cases and absence of credible evidence.”

He added: “Senator Hawley’s job was to represent the truth. Instead, he chose to go along with the president and others, namely Senator Cruz, to incite an insurrection.”

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