Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are at a moment of reckoning for their firm alliances with President Trump, facing widespread condemnation at home and in Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of a brutal assault on the U.S. Capitol for their efforts to overturn the election.
The two senators have found themselves in an uncomfortable position after leading the charge to object to Biden electors – even after rioters stormed the building in an effort to overturn Biden’s victory, which caused other Republicans to walk back their support.
“There’s no way they cannot be complicit in this,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a conservative Democrat who typically eschews the fiery rhetoric of his more liberal colleagues, told Politico, adding, “That they think they can walk away and say ‘I just exercised my right as a senator’… I don’t know how you can live with yourself right now knowing that people lost their lives.”
Progressives in the House have been no less harsh, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) repeatedly calling on them to resign and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) even proposing legislation to expel GOP lawmakers who “incited” the incident – a clear shot at Hawley, Cruz and their compatriots.
Missouri’s two largest newspapers, the St. Louis Dispatch and the Kansas City Star, have called on Hawley to resign, with the Houston Chronicle calling on Cruz to resign and the San Antonio Express-News calling for Cruz to be expelled after initially demanding his resignation.
37%. That’s the share of voters who said they blame Cruz for the attack in a Morning Consult/Politico poll of 1,986 registered released Friday. That’s more than the 27% who blame Hawley and 30% who blame Democrats in Congress, but far fewer than the 52% who blame Republicans in Congress and 63% who blame Trump. Among Republicans, only 21% blame Cruz and 14% blame Hawley.
Joe Biden – the bipartisan friend-maker who, much to the chagrin of many in his party, has stood firm in his plans to work across the aisle despite Republicans’ persistent efforts to overturn his victory – delivered perhaps the most brutal attack against Hawley and Cruz on Friday. Calling them “part of the big lie,” Biden compared the two senators to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels and said they should get “flat beaten” next time they run for office.
Hawley and Cruz have refused to resign and shot back at their critics. Hawley called Biden’s Goebbels comparison “utterly shameful” and threatened legal action against Simon & Schuster for canceling his book. Cruz has denied allegations he fundraised during the attack – claiming he instructed his team to halt fundraising emails and texts within “minutes” despite a text time-stamped over two hours after the attack began – accused Biden of “vicious partisan rhetoric” and repeatedly claimed his objection was not aimed at overturning the election.
An anonymous person who was in one of the secure rooms where lawmakers were led during the Capitol attack told the Wall Street Journal that Hawley was ostracized by colleagues during the lockdown. “For most of the time, he was in a corner of the room by himself with no one talking to him or acknowledging him,” they said, calling the sight “extremely striking.”
Many critics allege the objections were clearly and cynically designed as stepping stones for 2024 presidential bids. “Everyone can see through, and look: understand they’re running for president,” former Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told Politico, adding that they did it to be “popular with the base.” Sen. Bob Casey vowed, if either become the 2024 Republican nominee, to spend “a lot of time making sure the people of Pennsylvania don’t forget” their objections.
What To Watch For
It is highly unlikely Cruz or Hawley will resign or be forced out, but their political prospects both within and outside the senate appeared to have dimmed. In addition to alienating possible donors, one anonymous Republican senator told Politico the caucus would “face a reckoning over Hawley and Cruz.”