Josh Hawley’s fist pump of encouragement to Donald Trump’s supporters in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is one of the more iconic images of that fateful, deadly day. Shortly after the Missouri Republican senator made the gesture, many in the crowd were inspired to assault police, smash windows, invade the Capitol building and put a violent halt to the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election.
Nearly four months to the day after having saluted that crowd, Hawley has no regrets, no remorse for his actions and denies any responsibility for stirring the crowd to violence. Five people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died as a result of the riot that Hawley saluted and more than 100 officers were hurt trying to defend the Capitol and the legislators inside, including the Missouri senator.
“I waved to them, gave them the thumbs up, pumped my fist to them and thanked them for being there,” Hawley said during a video interview Tuesday with the Washington Post. “I don’t know which of those protestors, if any of them, those demonstrators, participated in the criminal riot. And I think it’s a slur on the thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people who came to the Capitol that day to demonstrate peacefully to lump them in with the criminal rioters and say, ‘Oh, you’re all basically the same.’ ”
Even though he was forced to flee the Senate floor as the insurrectionists marauded through the building, Hawley returned to the chamber and went forward with his plan to object to certification of the Electoral College vote. He said he wasn’t going to let a “lawless criminal mob” affect his plans to raise “concerns about election integrity.” Hawley now acknowledges that Biden is the lawfully elected president.
Like many Republicans, Hawley still cedes control of the party to twice-impeached, one-term former president Trump. The senator said during the interview that he would not run for the presidency in 2024 if the former guy runs again. “My view is that the former president – he’s a very significant force in the party as it is and that’s going to be true no matter what,” Hawley said.
At one point during the interview, as Hawley attempted to filibuster away the time with a long-winded, off-topic answer, the interviewer, Cat Zakrzewski, interrupted to refocus the conversation. The senator immediately played the Republican victim card, saying, “Don’t try to censor, cancel and silence me here.” Zakrzewski dismissed the complaint, simply saying, “Senator, we’re hosting you here.”