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Democratic senators call for ethics investigation into Hawley, Cruz

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Democratic senators call for ethics investigation into Hawley, Cruz
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, object to the certification of Arizona's Electoral College votes during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A group of Senate Democrats on Thursday called on the Ethics Committee to launch an investigation into Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz over the role they played in the Jan 6. riot at the Capitol by objecting to the results of the presidential election.

In the complaint, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; requested the committee to open a probe into whether the decision by Hawley, R-Mo., and Cruz, R-Texas, to object to the Electoral College results violated the chamber's ethics rules.

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"The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate their conduct to fully understand their role," the senators wrote. "The actions of which we know demand an investigation and a determination whether disciplinary action is warranted. Until then, a cloud of uncertainty will hang over them and over this body."

On Dec. 30, Hawley became the first senator to say he would object to the Electoral College result and he was later joined by Cruz and 10 other senators calling for an emergency audit of the results.

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The senators said that Hawley and Cruz "lent legitimacy" to the cause of the mob that stormed the Capitol building in support of Donald Trump and said the Ethics Committee must determine if they failed to "[p]ut loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department" or engaged in "improper conduct reflecting on the Senate."

"While it was within Senators' rights to object to the electors, the conduct of Sens. Cruz and Hawley and potentially others, went beyond that," they wrote. "Both senators announced their intention to object to the electors after baseless claims of election fraud, which upon information and belief they knew to be baseless, had led to threats of violence."

Several other senators who planned to object to the certification of the results changed course following the siege on the Capitol but Hawley and Cruz persisted with their challenge, despite condemning the actions of the rioters.

Hawley issued a statement on Thursday accusing Democrats and President Joe Biden of attempting to "silence dissent."

"This latest effort is a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge," he said of the complaint. "Democrats appear intent on weaponizing every tool at their disposal -- including pushing an unconstitutional impeachment process -- to further divide the country. Missourians will not be canceled by these partisan attacks."

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