Republicans don't care about death threats against colleagues — they are too busy seeking revenge

Republicans will find a reason to impeach Joe Biden — but can't be bothered by Paul Gosar's threats

By Heather Digby Parton


Published November 17, 2021 10:03AM (EST)

Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Paul Gosar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Paul Gosar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar is a piece of work. A conservative Republican who first came to Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave, he has obtained a national profile in the last few years by garnering the dubious distinction of being the most radical member of the House GOP caucus, and that's saying something. He's a full-fledged conspiracy theorist and white nationalist whose own family has publicly disowned him. But no one in the GOP leadership has felt it necessary to rein him in for any of this, not even after he posted a photoshopped anime video of himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and assaulting President Joe Biden.

Apparently, the GOP believes this dangerous extremist can literally do no wrong. Meanwhile, they are very busy plotting revenge on the Republicans who voted last week for the infrastructure bill, so it's understandable that they might not have time to discipline a congressman who publicly fantasizes about killing a Democratic member of Congress and attacking the president. They have priorities.

What this all means is that the Democrats will have to take matters into their own hands just as they were forced to do when the newly elected far-right bomb thrower Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, had years of racist, anti-semitic, violent comments brought to light last winter, including liking Facebook comments calling for the execution of Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (She also threatened violence against Ocasio-Cortez, which seems to be a favorite pastime among the looniest GOP backbenchers.) Since Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was too cowardly to take Greene on himself, the Democrats, being in the majority, stripped her of her committee assignments. The House will vote today on a resolution to do the same to Gosar and censure him as well.

The Republicans just don't have a problem with death threats.

One of them, Tom Emmer of Minnesota was quoted saying that the video was inappropriate but "unfortunately, in the world we're in right now, we all get death threats, no matter what the issue is." See, it's no biggie. In fact, they are happy to let the Democrats do their dirty work for them by reeling in their violent gadflies — and then make them pay for it the next time the Republicans take power. It's a win-win.

Recall that after Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her committees, they made it explicit. McCarthy took to the floor to remind the Democrats that when they nuked the filibuster for lower court nominees in 2013 (after having most of President Obama's nominees blocked by the GOP for years) Mitch McConnell told them "You'll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think" — and then he nuked it for Supreme Court justices the first chance he got. The idea that he wouldn't have done it anyway is laughable, but they like to pretend they are victims and are just acting in self-defense.

McCarthy made the threats explicit saying that Republicans have a "long list" of those they plan to strip of committee assignments including  Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Congressman Jim Banks, a Republican from Indiana who McCarthy wanted to install on the January 6th Committee despite Banks' vote against certifying the 2020 election, warned in a now-deleted tweet that Swalwell, Omar, Waters and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. should be "begging Speaker Pelosi not to go through with this." (I don't know how he expects the House of Representatives to strip committee assignments from a U.S. senator, but maybe he just couldn't think of any other Black representatives in the moment.)

And then there was this fine fellow, known mostly for being heavily involved in Donald Trump's attempted coup:

I have absolutely no doubt that they mean it and that they will do it. Following the lead of Donald Trump, revenge and retribution is Republicans' first principle now, whether against any Republican who crosses Dear Leader or votes with Democrats or against any and all Democrats once they are back in power. Just this week they had another hysterical meltdown over the fact that former White House adviser and podcaster Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt of congress.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado tweeted: "Now that Democrats have started these politically-motivated indictments for Contempt of Congress, I look forward to seeing their reactions when we keep that same energy as we take back the House next year! Future House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Oh., pledged that the Biden administration will spend virtually all its time under subpoena if the Republicans win back the House in 2022. He tweeted, "Joe Biden has evicerated [sic] Executive Privilege. There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from Ron Klain and Jake Sullivan when we take back the House." I'm pretty sure neither of them have been involved in any coup plotting or riot inciting, but I have little doubt that these people will turn the House of Representatives into a three ring circus the minute they take the gavel.

The big enchilada, of course, will be the inevitable impeachment of President Biden. You know it's going to be on the top of the agenda. As Salon's Chauncey DeVega wrote a few weeks ago, Senator Lindsey Graham is already casting about for reasons:

During a recent interview with Newsmax TV, Sen. Lindsey Graham continued his demands that Joe Biden be impeached for "dereliction of duty" because of conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border. Graham told Newsmax host Eric Bolling, "I think the guy deserves to be impeached for this," citing an "invasion" by migrants and immigrants from Latin America and Haiti.

He's suggested that Biden should be impeached for Afghanistan as well. I'm sure they're already drawing up a list of articles of impeachment as we speak. It's what they do. After all, they were poised to impeach Hillary Clinton, even before the 2016 election:

Senior Republican lawmakers are openly discussing the prospect of impeaching Hillary Clinton should she win the presidency, a stark indication that partisan warfare over her tenure as secretary of state will not end on Election Day. Chairmen of two congressional committees said in media interviews this week they believe Clinton committed impeachable offenses in setting up and using a private email server for official State Department business. And a third senior Republican, the chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee, told The Washington Post he is personally convinced Clinton should be impeached for influence peddling involving her family foundation.

Listening to them caterwaul about Democrats launching politically motivated investigations is enough to drive one to drink.

As DeVega rightly pointed out "impeaching Biden is one tactic in a larger plan to delegitimize any election that Republican do not win." But it's also just plain old revenge. The Democrats won the last two elections and impeached Donald Trump twice. They must pay for that insult.

The Republicans will find a reason to impeach Biden and they will no doubt find some reason to censure some Democratic representatives, the more absurd the charges the better. It's the exercise of power that matters. They are going to use it ruthlessly. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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Commentary House Gop Joe Biden Impeachment Paul Gosar Steve Bannon