One of the major papers in Senator Josh Hawley’s home state of Missouri is calling on the Republican to either back former president Donald Trump’s impeachment or resign if he wants to consider himself a true defender of “law and order.”
“The sole responsibility left to Hawley and his colleagues is to enforce the law and bring Trump to justice,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote in an editorial on Monday. “Because any elected official who has law enforcement responsibility and won’t do it needs to resign.”
The opinion piece highlighted how Mr Hawley, the first senator to back Mr Trump’s cynical effort to overturn final certification of the election results in Congress, which helped fuel the 6 January riot at the Capitol, has previously talked about the importance of maintaining “law and order” when it came to questions like the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
“We’re going to protect the American people. It’s the first job of the American government,” Senator Hawley said at the time. “Any elected official who has law enforcement responsibility and won’t do it needs to resign.”
Both Mr Hawley’s resignation and a yes vote for impeaching the president seem unlikely.
A number of Republicans, including the Missouri senator, took the rare step of criticising the president after years of indulging him following the attack on the Capitol.
"Thank you to the brave law enforcement officials who have put their lives on the line,” Mr Hawley said in a statement. “The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted, and Congress must get back to work and finish its job."
But on 26 January, Mr Hawley and 44 other Republicans voted to object to the impeachment, arguing it wasn’t constitutional to impeach a former president.
Even Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who previously said on the Senate floor that “the mob was fed lies" and "they were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” voted for the objection. (Mr McConnell has reportedly said in private he believes Mr Trump committed impeachable offences.)
Only five moderate GOP senators voted against the objection including Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The editorial is the latest in a wave of bipartisan condemnations of Mr Hawley and other Republicans like Ted Cruz who led the charge in Congress to challenge to the legitimate election results without evidence.
John Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri who had boosted Mr Hawley in the past, called backing him "the worst mistake I ever made in my life.’'
Donors have called for Mr Hawley to be censored, while Senator Sasse of Nebraska called objecting to the election results a “stunt” and a “dumba**” move.
Some of the senators’ colleagues have filed an ethics complaint against Mr Cruz and Mr Hawley, calling for them to be investigated for their ties to fuelling the riot and potentially expelled.
Similarly to the Post-Dispatch, the Houston Chronicle has called on Mr Cruz to resign for his role in firing up the mob at the Capitol.
“Senator, those terrorists wouldn’t have been at the Capitol if you hadn’t staged this absurd challenge to the 2020 results in the first place,” the editorial board wrote. “So, we call for another consequence, one with growing support across Texas: Resign.”
Despite the pressure, Mr Hawley has previously defended his choice to back the election challenge.
“I will never apologise for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections,” he said earlier this month.
Mr Hawley did not respond to a request for comment.
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