House Votes to Censure Paul Gosar and Strip Him of Committees in Wake of Controversial Anime Video

Adam Kinzinger, one of the Republicans who voted for the censure, wrote in a tweet that "we have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies"

Rep. Paul Gosar
Rep. Paul Gosar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Controversial Republican Paul Gosar was censured and stripped of his committee assignments by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, a little over a week after he posted a bizarre video on social media that depicted an animated version of himself attacking New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden.

Members of the House voted largely along party lines, with the resolution passing 223 to 207. Only two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — voted in favor of its passage, joining the House's Democratic majority.

A censure is the most severe form of punishment in the House, short of expulsion.

With the passage of the resolution, Gosar was also stripped of his two committee assignments: the Committee on Oversight and Reform (alongside Ocasio-Cortez), as well as the Committee on Natural Resources.

The video in question — captioned "Any anime fans out there?"; and which Gosar initially defended as innocuous — appeared on both Gosar's personal and professional Twitter feeds. It blended footage taken from the popular anime series Attack on Titan along with criticism of immigration.

Gosar eventually took down the video following criticism from lawmakers including Ocasio-Cortez, who posted a series of tweets in reference to what she called "a fantasy video of [Gosar] killing me."

In her tweets, 32-year-old congresswoman called her Arizona colleague, 62, "a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups" — an apparent reference to an event Gosar hosted with a white nationalist.

Ocasio-Cortez further argued that Gosar will "face no consequences bc [Republican leader Kevin McCarthy] cheers him on with excuses. Fun Monday! Well, back to work bc institutions don't protect [women of color.]"

Speaking on the house floor Wednesday during debate prior to the vote, McCarthy stopped short of condemning Gosar, instead directing his ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the censure vote "unprecedented." (While rare, there is precedent for such intra-House punishments: Earlier this year, some Republicans joined Democrats in stripping Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments in response to her social media behavior.)

In her own speech on the floor following McCarthy's remarks, Ocasio-Cortez said, "What I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership for either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Ocasio-Cortez continued: "What is so hard, what is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Rep. Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept."

During his own turn at the lectern, Gosar suggested the video was meant as a teaching tool, saying, "I do not espouse violence toward anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset ... The cartoon directly contributes to the understanding and the discussion of the real-life battle resulting from this administration's open-border policies."

The vote to censure Gosar comes during a heated time on the Capitol, with a group of Republicans facing severe backlash from their base for supporting the Biden-backed infrastructure package. Separately, Mother Jones reports that some lawmakers have had to hire security in an effort to feel safe.

Rep. Kinzinger, one of the Republicans who voted in favor of the censure, explained his thoughts on Gosar in a tweet published Tuesday evening: "We have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies. The failure to do so will take us one step closer to this fantasized violence becoming real. To be clear, I'll be voting yes on the Gosar censure resolution."

Prior to Wednesday's vote, the most recent lawmaker to be censured by the House was former Rep. Charlie Rangel, a New York Democrat found guilty of multiple ethics violations in 2010.

Gosar has made controversy a key part of his reputation. Even some of his own siblings have banded together against him to urge voters not to re-elect him or to call on his removal from office and to push back on their brother for his role in spreading evidence-free claims about the 2020 election.

The Arizona lawmaker has served as a member of the House of Representatives since 2011 and won re-election in November with nearly 70 percent of the vote in his district, according to The New York Times.

CNN reports that Gosar stood in a group in the back of the House floor during the vote and was surrounded by lawmakers including fellow GOP Rep. Taylor Greene.

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