Republicans should deal with the continued fallout from violent pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capitol by pushing for those who committed crimes to face punishment, Sen. Josh Hawley has said.
“We absolutely need to prosecute and hold accountable criminal rioters who assaulted cops, who stormed the Capitol, who broke the laws,” Hawley told the Washington Examiner in an exclusive interview Wednesday. “That’s true no matter what your political ideology is.”
Hawley has faced criticism for leading an effort in the Senate to object to electoral votes as they were being certified on Jan. 6. The rioters who stormed and trashed the Capitol that day had broken off from a protest of the election results that was fueled in large part by misinformation about election fraud.
How to grapple with the events of Jan. 6 and the rhetoric that sparked them has led to a leadership fight in the House, with many Republican members pushing to remove the GOP conference chairwoman, Rep. Liz Cheney, over her persistent comments about the day.
But Hawley compared the violence to some of the riots that spun off of peaceful protests against racial injustice in some cities over the summer — arguing a bright line should be drawn between those demonstrating without violence and those using the cover of a protest to commit crimes.
“I would defend people's right to protest peacefully whether I agree with them or not,” he said. “As conservatives, we've got to absolutely hold to that line."
“We’re absolutely not going to condone violence of any kind, for any reason, period. I think that we’ve got to be clear on that.”
Facebook and Twitter banned former President Donald Trump after Jan. 6, citing content he posted in the moments before and after the riots. The Twitter ban was permanent; Facebook upheld its ban earlier this week but is reviewing whether to lift it in the months ahead.