US House censures Republican for anime video depicting attack on Ocasio-Cortez

Mr Paul Gosar will be removed from his seats on the Natural Resource Committee and the Oversight Committee. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The House voted on Wednesday (Nov 17) to censure Arizona Republican Paul Gosar and revoke his committee assignments for tweeting an altered anime video that depicted him striking Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword and attacking President Joe Biden.

The censure, a formal rebuke, is the first such action against a House member in more than a decade.

With the 223-207 vote, Mr Gosar also will be removed from his seats on the Natural Resource Committee and the Oversight Committee, on which Ms Ocasio-Cortez also serves.

Two Republicans who have bucked party leadership in recent months, Mr Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Ms Liz Cheney of Wyoming, joined Democrats in voting in favour of the resolution.

"As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country," Ms Ocasio-Cortez said before the vote. "And that is where we must draw the line, independent of party, identity or belief."

Democrats said the altered video, which Mr Gosar deleted as a furore rose, was a direct threat to another member of Congress and an attack on the institution.

"This is central to our work in Congress that we protect the integrity of the House, of the institution, but also the lives of our members," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday morning. "It is outrageous on the part of the Republican leadership not to act upon this."

Republican leaders have acknowledged that Mr Gosar's video was inappropriate, but have fought back against Democrats taking the resolution to the floor.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy pointed out comments made by Democratic Representatives which he claimed "incited violence", but none of the members were censured.

"For Democrats, this vote isn't about a video. It's about control," Mr McCarthy said on the House floor. "The Democrats want control and they don't care about the consequences. They're destroying this institution silencing the minority and therefore silencing millions of Americans."

Mr McCarthy signalled that he may move to remove from their committee assignments Democrats who have made threatening comments if Republicans take back the majority after the 2022 elections.

The tweet from Mr Gosar, posted over a week ago, was an altered version of the opening credits of the Japanese animated television series Attack on Titan. The video was edited to include the faces of Ms Ocasio-Cortez, Mr Biden and Mr Gosar. The title was also changed to say "Immigrant Attack" in Japanese.

Remote video URL

Mr Gosar defended himself on the floor, saying the video was neither dangerous nor threatening. "I do not espouse violence towards anyone, I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset," he said. "I voluntarily took the cartoon down, not because it was itself threat, but because some thought it was."

Mr Kinzinger said in a tweet on Tuesday night, "We have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies. The failure to do so will take us one step closer to this fantasised violence becoming real."

The last time the House censured a member was in 2010. The chamber took the action against Democrat Representative Charles Rangel of New York over a variety financial misdeeds. Mr Gosar is the 24th member of the House to be censured.

The nation's increasingly polarised politics and the Jan 6 insurrection at the Capitol have raised tension between the two parties.

Earlier this year, the Democratic majority voted to strip Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee seats for embracing conspiracy theories and violence against Democrats but did not censure her. In April, the House turned aside an attempt by Republicans to censure California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters for statements that Black Lives Matter protesters should "get more confrontational" if the police officer responsible for killing George Floyd in Minneapolis got acquitted at trial.

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