Josh Hawley, the Missouri senator shown running from the mob he incited on January 6, is “a laughingstock” who should be afraid of what the Capitol attack committee might disclose next, a leading newspaper in his home state said.
Hawley was widely criticised for raising a fist to protesters outside Congress on 6 January 2021, then after the mob sent by Donald Trump failed to stop certification of Joe Biden’s election win, voting to object to results anyway.
The senator cast that vote, American voters now know, after running when rioters broke into Congress.
In an editorial, the Kansas City Star noted that Hawley will soon publish a book entitled Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs, but said people watching the hearing “didn’t see much virile bravado as he ran from the mob”.
The Star began: “Josh Hawley is a laughingstock. During Thursday night’s televised hearings of the House committee investigating the January 6 2021 coup attempt … [Democratic] representative Elaine Luria showed video of Missouri’s junior senator that will surely follow him the rest of his life.
“In the clip, Hawley sprints across a hallway as he and his fellow senators are evacuated after insurrectionists had breached the Capitol building. When it played on the screen, the audience in the room with the committee erupted in laughter.”
On Twitter, users spliced the video to songs including Born to Run, Running Up That Hill and the Benny Hill theme. Charlie Sykes, a conservative Trump critic, wrote: “Running Josh Hawley is a meme for the ages.”
But the Star also noted that “Hawley has become one of the defining figures of that day. A famous photo captured by Francis Chung shows him raising a fist in solidarity with the crowds that would soon break through doors, loot offices and assault law enforcement.”
The senator shows no sign of backing down. Speaking at a conservative conference in Florida on Friday, apparently without irony, he said: “I just want to say to all of those liberals out there and the liberal media, just in case you haven’t gotten the message yet, I do not regret [voting to object to electoral results].
“And I am not backing down. I’m not going to apologise. I’m not going to cower. I’m not going to run from you. I’m not going to bend the knee.”
He has also used the image to fundraise, selling among other items mugs said to be “the perfect way to enjoy coffee, tea, or liberal tears!”
Politico, which owns the image, asked Hawley to stop using it. He refused. On Friday morning, he tweeted a link to a site selling the mug.
In February, Hawley told the Huffington Post: “It is not a pro-riot mug. This was not me encouraging rioters … At the time that we were out there, folks were gathered peacefully to protest, and they have a right to do that. They do not have a right to assault cops.”
As the Star noted, however, in Thursday’s hearing Luria “quoted a Capitol police officer who was there and told the committee that Hawley’s gesture ‘riled up the crowd, and it bothered her greatly because he was doing it in a safe space protected by the officers and the barriers’”.
Hawley was the first senator to say he would object on January 6, when he was joined by 146 other Republicans. Hawley, the Star said, “took to the floor as the very first voice calling to throw out millions of Americans’ votes cast fairly and legally for the rightful winner in a presidential election”.
It continued: “Funny as the visual of the self-proclaimed manly senator’s immediate retreat was, there’s absolutely nothing amusing about January 6 2021. A bipartisan Senate report concluded seven people died as a result of the attack. Two more Metropolitan police officers took their own lives shortly after.
“About 150 members of law enforcement were injured, and it’s impossible to know how many others caught up in the horrific event will carry scars for life, of body and mind. We said that day Hawley has blood on his hands for his role in perpetuating the lies that drove thousands of people to violence. That remains true.”
The editorial signed off with a warning. Noting the work of Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican nonetheless vice-chair of the January 6 committee, it said: “Josh Hawley might not fear a little mockery of his hasty flight from Capitol marauders.
“But he might be justified if he’s afraid of what emails or text messages some previously-loyal staffer might be considering turning over to the House committee.
“Stay tuned to the hearings.”