The House Ethics Committee has declined to investigate whether Rep. Paul Gosar helped instigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, as a Democratic colleague had suggested in her request for a probe.
Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., told Gosar in a private letter dated June 11 that Gosar publicly shared Tuesday that the Ethics Committee he chairs would not be forming a special panel to look into the matter.
Gosar, R-Ariz., claimed vindication over the allegation by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., which he had previously described as “devoid of reality.”
“This patently baseless claim attempted to conflate political disagreements with ethics,” Gosar said in a statement on Tuesday. “The House Committee on Ethics should not be politicized for partisan purposes.”
Jayapal’s office could not be reached for comment Tuesday. She had also sought probes against Reps. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and it was unclear late Tuesday whether those matters had been resolved.
In Gosar’s case, it was perhaps an anti-climactic ending to one skirmish in the ongoing partisan reckoning over what, if any, responsibility members of Congress had in triggering the deadly violence at the Capitol.
In March, Jayapal, who chairs the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus, largely pointed to media accounts of Gosar promoting the false narrative of a stolen election in the months after former President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection.
In written requests to the ethics committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics, which also screens such complaints, Jayapal said Gosar “urged supporters to take action against election certification, repeatedly insisting that the election had been stolen and participating in rallies alleging voter fraud.”
Gosar pushed back aggressively in his written response, arguing that he had only exercised his free speech rights, and intimated that Jayapal’s allegations were defamatory.
“Know this: I have never instigated violence,” he said in his formal response to the Ethics Committee. “I have no criminal record of any type. I have never aided or abetted violence. I have not urged or supported violence. A review of Jayapal’s unsupported, baseless, and fraudulent allegations suggest they are devoid of reality and smothered in Blue Anon conspiracy theories, ad hominem attacks, and baseless speculation.”
The term “Blue Anon” is used by the right to describe promoters of left-wing conspiracy theories.
Gosar’s response to Jayapal notes that he had the right to object to the 2020 presidential election results, just as she did in 2017, when she objected to Trump’s victory at that time.
Tom Van Flein, Gosar’s chief of staff, said the committee did not address Gosar’s call for sanctions against Jayapal for filing what he viewed as a frivolous complaint. Van Flein said Gosar continues to weigh legal action over the matter.
Jayapal’s request against Gosar largely hinged on media accounts detailing his participation in “Stop the Steal” rallies organized by Texas resident Ali Alexander. He called Gosar the “spirit animal” of the effort to rally in Washington on the day Congress was required to certify the election results.
Gosar was among the more prominent congressional voices in the tumultuous interregnum before President Joe Biden took office.
This spring, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., compiled a list of what she viewed as troubling social media posts that helped create the environment for the Jan. 6 violence.
At 177 pages, the portion listing Gosar’s posts appeared to be the longest of any member Lofgren’s 1,900-page report cited.
Last month, the Senate failed to muster a filibuster-proof majority to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 violence in a sign of how politically combustible the subject remains.
The House could still create a select committee of its own members to handle such a probe, but it is unclear whether the Democratic-led chamber will do so.
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