Goldman files censure against Stefanik for calling January 6 defendants “hostages”


Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., planned on Wednesday to file a formal censure of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., accusing her of peddling voter fraud conspiracy theories that fueled the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and supporting rioters who violently threatened members of Congress, referring to them as “hostages.”

Goldman's ruling marked the latest case in which a lawmaker used what was once a rare form of congressional punishment — a public reprimand shortly before expulsion that has historically been used against members only after a criminal conviction or finding of irregularities) to condemn the speech. from a colleague.

Appearing on “Meet The Press” this month to mark the third anniversary of the assault on the Capitol, Stefanik said she harbored “concerns about the treatment of the Jan. 6 hostages,” echoing the former president’s use of the term. Donald J. Trump describes his supporters who have been jailed for trespassing and assaulting police officers that day.

Stefanik, who previously called on the Justice Department to prosecute those responsible, also said during the interview that “we are seeing the weaponization of the federal government not only against President Trump, but also against conservatives.”

Democrats have widely condemned his use of the word “hostages” to refer to hundreds of people who were convicted of crimes related to the assault on the Capitol.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, said Stefanik “should be ashamed of herself.” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who was a member of the House panel that investigated the Jan. 6 attack, speculated on social media that she did it because she was auditioning to be Trump's running mate.

But Goldman is the first to turn his distaste for Stefanik's language and behavior into a proposal for formal censure, an increasingly common way to register partisan criticism in Congress. Last year, Republicans censured three Democrats: Reps. Adam B. Schiff of California, for his role in the Trump investigation; Jamaal Bowman of New York for setting off a false fire alarm in a House office building; and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, for her statements about the war between Israel and Hamas.

In 2021, Democrats censured Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., for posting an animated video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and assaulting President Biden.

Before Gosar, only one House member had been censured in nearly four decades.

House Democrats have tried to keep their members aligned to oppose Republican efforts to censure members of their caucus for their speech, arguing that doing so erodes a basic tenet of democracy. And they have generally managed to keep Democrats mostly united against Republican-led censures, with the exception of Tlaib's official condemnation, which some pro-Israel Democrats broke with their leaders to support.

Goldman defended his move and said he had the backing of Democratic leaders.

“What it comes down to is whether the speech of a member of Congress goes beyond the line of promoting violence, some form of discrimination or brings serious discredit to the institution,” Goldman said in an interview. Ms. Stefanik, she said, had crossed that line.

“It is directly related to the security of this organization,” he said of his statements. “If you provide comfort to those people who have been charged and convicted for violent attempts to overthrow our government, you are supporting the people who attacked the Capitol and attacked this body.”

Before being elected to Congress, Goldman served as lead counsel for House Democrats during the first impeachment inquiry into Trump, when Stefanik surprisingly emerged as Trump's most aggressive defender on the Intelligence Committee.

“I saw her sell her soul for her own political ambition, firsthand,” he said. “I'm aware of how she saw an opportunity and completely changed her policy approach to achieve it, I saw it firsthand.”

A top Stefanik adviser, Alex DeGrasse, issued a lengthy statement in response, accusing Goldman, heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, of “unethically trading tens of millions of dollars in stocks” and claiming that it “failed greatly.” extent”. “Left-wing House Democrats are absolutely in free fall because Elise Stefanik remains one of the most effective members of Congress.”

DeGrasse called Goldman “corrupt” and “radical” and said he and other Democrats “are desperate because they know Joe Biden is going to lose this November.”

Republicans are unlikely to schedule a floor vote on Goldman's censure of one of their own leaders. But he has the option of raising it as a privileged resolution, something he said he would consider in the future.

“Our preference would be for Republicans to recognize that that kind of rhetoric has to stop and find courage and stand up to Donald Trump,” Goldman said.

Goldman's action also claims that Stefanik has filed vindictive ethics complaints against a federal judge overseeing criminal cases related to the Jan. 6 insurrections and has falsely referred to Trump's indictment by Jack Smith, the special prosecutor. as “attempts to criminalize the First Amendment.”

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