By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Former President Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed Rep. Paul Gosar just one day after the House passed a resolution censuring the Arizona Republican and stripping his committee assignments.
“Congressman Paul Gosar has been a loyal supporter of our America First agenda, and even more importantly, the USA. Paul is a Congressman who is highly respected in Arizona, strong on Crime, Borders, our Military, and our Veterans,” the former President said in a statement. “He continually fights for Lower Taxes, Less Regulations, and our great, but under siege, Second Amendment. Paul Gosar has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Gosar’s censuring on Wednesday represented a major rebuke to the lawmaker for posting a photoshopped anime video to social media showing him appearing to kill Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden. The final vote was 223-207.
Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming voted with all the Democrats for the resolution. Gosar took down the video after facing criticism but did not apologize. And about an hour after being censured, Gosar retweeted a tweet praising him that also included the video.
A censure resolution is the most severe form of punishment in the House, and stripping members of committee assignments deprives them of a powerful platform to influence legislation and give voice to constituent priorities. The episode underscores and threatens to worsen the rising tensions and deepening distrust between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who voted against the resolution but has condemned Gosar over the video, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Thursday evening, “Congressman Gosar owes AOC an apology, quite frankly. This kind of rhetoric that we keep seeing over and over again — and it’s the far right and far left fringes of our society and of elected officials — it’s damaging to our kids’ future and our country, and it really has to stop.”
“We need strong people with strong minds, strong backs, who are willing to stand up against it,” she continued. “The vote on censure was actually more than that, it was to strip him of his committees as well.”
Gosar has closely aligned himself with Trump — who remains an intensely popular figure in the party — while running for reelection in a deeply conservative district.
“Thank you President Trump for this honor. I am humbled to have earned your support, and the support of the American people. Our struggle to return this nation to greatness is more daunting than ever with the current Administration,” Gosar tweeted Thursday. “Together we will save America.”
But while the former President is expected to maintain a prolific schedule of campaign rallies to boost Republicans in next year’s midterm elections, some of his aides and allies warn there could be parts of the country where he may now be encouraged to keep his distance.
The “stay away strategy,” as one aide previously described it, would involve Trump steering clear of states or districts where a confluence of factors — such as his popularity and the demographic makeup — could mean his presence might sabotage Republican chances.
This story has been updated with comments from GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina.
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