Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) during a joint session of Congress to ratify the 2020 presidential election at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) during a joint session of Congress to ratify the 2020 presidential election at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

'A Good First Step': Senators File Ethics Complaint Over Cruz and Hawley's Role in Capitol Insurrection

The move by a group of Democrats comes as demands are building for the two Republicans to be ousted from the Senate over the deadly attack.

Jessica Corbett

Amid mounting calls for Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri to resign or be expelled from the chamber, a group of Democrats filed an ethics complaint on Thursday requesting an investigation into the two senators' roles in inciting a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called on the Senate Ethics Committee "to carry out a thorough and fair investigation and consider any appropriate consequences based on the committee's findings."

Addressed to Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), the committee's chair and vice chair, the complaint (pdf) notes that when Cruz and Hawley "announced they would object to the counting of state-certified electors on January 6, 2021, they amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country."

The complaint further notes that Cruz and Hawley's objections "were part of an ongoing effort" by former President Donald Trump and his allies "to obstruct the counting of electoral votes that would confirm his defeat." After an inflammatory January 6 speech that ultimately led to Trump's historic second impeachment, a right-wing mob stormed the Capitol, forcing those present to flee for their lives and delaying for several hours the certification of President Joe Biden's November victory.

Although, in the wake of the Capitol attack, Trump's Cabinet ignored demands for removing him via the 25th Amendment and lawmakers acted too late to oust him with a Senate trial—which Trump still faces and could result in him being barred from ever seeking elected office again—there have also been building calls for Cruz and Hawley to face consequences for inciting the violence with election lies.

Even after the Capitol was secured and lawmakers returned to certify Biden's win, "Cruz and Hawley continued to amplify the claims of fraud that they likely knew to be baseless and that had led to violence earlier that day," the complaint points out. "Violent action provoked by false fraud claims remains a persistent threat."

"The Senate has a duty to determine whether the actions of Sens. Cruz and Hawley constitute 'improper conduct' or other violations of the Senate code of ethics," the Democrats argued. "Only then will this body restore public trust."

The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tweeted in response that "an ethics investigation is a good first step."

CREW also called Lankford to recuse from any such investigation, "given his involvement in the events that led to the insurrection, as well as due to his connections to Cruz and Hawley." The vice chair was part of Cruz's coalition of 11 Republicans who vowed to reject the Electoral College tallies without a congressional probe and also "pushed debunked claims of illegal votes and of dead people voting."

"These actions undermined confidence in the free and fair election," CREW said in a statement Thursday. "Undermining that public confidence may well have helped incite the mob that carried out an armed insurrection attempting to hold up the transfer of power. Sen. Lankford must not be allowed to weigh in on any investigation of his colleagues' conduct when his own behavior may have contributed to the issue at hand."

While the investigation request was welcomed by some critics of the senators, author and political analyst Anand Giridharadas said in an interview on MSNBC that aired hours before the complaint was announced that Democrats—now in control of both the White House and Congress—lack the "sense of fight" necessary to take on the GOP.

"I actually think there is a huge problem in this country of only the bad guys having fight in them," said Giridharadas. "You don't actually want a society in which only the people who want to do harm understand themselves to be in a battle."

As an example, Giridharadas pointed to Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.), who had also appeared on MSNBC early Thursday. Durbin refused to demand the expulsion of Republican lawmakers who incited the insurrection, instead saying that any disciplinary action would be "initiated by the ethics committee."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

One Year In, Biden Fails to Boost C- Grade on Environment

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund assessment indicates the administration's action to deliver on environmental promises "desperately needs improvement."

Jessica Corbett ·

'A No-Brainer': Lawmakers Urge Pelosi to Hold Vote on Stock Trading Ban

"Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities," said House members in a bipartisan letter. "We don't care."

Jessica Corbett ·

Virginia Schools Sue Youngkin Mandate Making Masks Optional

The Republican governor wants to allow parents to decide whether their children should wear masks to school to mitigate Covid-19 transmission—guidance at least 58 school districts have no plans to follow.

Julia Conley ·

US Puts Troops on Standby as War Tensions Over Ukraine Mount

The U.K. threatens "lightning war" as military forces mobilize in eastern Europe.

Andrea Germanos ·

Advocacy Group Urges Pfizer to Combat Paxlovid Inequality

"Help end the pandemic this year around the world," one advocate told Pfizer. "Not just in a handful of rich countries."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo