Opinion: The Jan. 6 insurrection, one year later

In order to ensure the health and safety of U.S. democracy, the Senate must censure or expel Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.

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Ryan Walker

One year ago today, domestic terrorists in support of former President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Staff Photo by Ryan Walker)

By Kevin Kurian, Opinion Editor

A year ago today, right-wing rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to silence 81 million people who voted against former President Donald Trump. They came bearing firearms and Trump flags; they constructed a noose and gallows and chanted “Hang Mike Pence” because of his role in certifying the election. The rioters, however, had no real reason to storm the Capitol: Many Republican elected officials act in total conformance with their wills. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas led the efforts against certifying the election of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, fueling lies about a stolen election. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri saluted the domestic terrorists right before they breached the house and senate chambers. 

It is wrong that neither Cruz nor Hawley have faced repercussions for supporting domestic terrorists who attempted a coup. Fortunately, the United States can expel the two senators from the Senate by invoking the third article of the 14th Amendment, which states that no elected official “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” — and that those who have engaged in insurrection can be removed with a two-thirds vote. Shortly after Jan. 6 this year — the one-year anniversary of arguably one of the most damaging attacks on our democracy — the Senate should take up a motion to expel Hawley and Cruz, as well as other lawmakers who supported the insurrectionists.

Cruz has expressed no contrition for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. In a tweet to Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, he characterized his support for the overturning of a legitimate election as “leading a debate in the Senate on ensuring election.” Similarly, Hawley has refused to accept accountability for his role in the insurrection. If these disgraced public officials do not at least have the decency to acknowledge wrongdoing, they should be removed from office. 

Supporters of former President Donald Trump stand outside the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, 2020. (Staff Photo by Ryan Walker)

While Trump’s standing among GOP elites shifted rapidly after the insurrection, leading to bipartisan support for his impeachment, little else changed the following year. Still, two thirds of the GOP base believes the election was rigged. Their claims are being supported by high-profile conservatives, such as Tucker Carlson, who later claimed that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a false flag operation. Something must be done to show these people that insurrection will not be tolerated and that its leaders will be dealt with using the full force of the law. 

Worth noting is that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key obstructionist of Biden’s agenda, supports the removal of Hawley and Cruz via the 14th Amendment. Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mitt Romney of Utah expressed similar sentiments, with the former correctly labelling Hawley as “really dumbass,” and with both voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial. Five other Republican senators joined their colleagues, adding up to 57 votes in favor of convicting Trump — and 57 possible votes in favor of removing Cruz and Hawley from office. Although this is 10 votes shy of the supermajority necessary to remove the duo, a censure, or an official condemnation of wrongdoing, is still possible with an evenly divided senate. At the very least, through a simple majority vote, a censure could hold Hawley and Cruz accountable with it serving as a living memorial to the cowardice of the senators who refused to convict two of their vilest colleagues.

Before Jan. 6, John Eastman, a lawyer for Trump, put together a memo that detailed his plans to officially steal the election. It was a six-step memo that would have ultimately led to Pence rejecting the certification of the election and sending the electoral college votes back to swing states, where their Republican-led state legislatures would have then sent a new slate of pro-Trump electoral votes to Congress. If a Democrat wins the presidency while Republicans control Congress — or, as happened last time, the presidency — we are in danger of a constitutionally legitimate insurrection, because men like Cruz and Hawley roam the halls of the Senate. They should be removed from office because of their role in last year’s insurrection — and in anticipation of democratic unrest to come.

Contact Kevin Kurian at [email protected]