During a segment on MSNBC this Friday, the panel discussed the focus on Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley from the January 6 committee, which highlighted his raised fist in solidarity with Trump supporters on prior to the insurrection and his subsequent fleeing from Capitol as violence broke out that day.
When asked whether Hawley could be culpable for potentially helping to incite the violence on Jan. 6, former federal prosecutor Paul Butler said yes.
"All of the public hearings so far have been laser-focused on Donald Trump, the House committee clearly thinks a criminal prosecution would be an effective mechanism for accountability and for deterrence," Butler said. "But there are other issues regarding the insurrection that we need more information about, including the role of Republican congressman like Representative Hawley in encouraging the insurrectionists."
Hawley was the first Republican senator to announce that he planned to object during the Electoral College certification process on January 6, 2021, citing Trump's debunked claims of election fraud.
“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws. And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden," he said in a statement on December 30, 2021.
Hawley faced stinging rebukes from his state's two main newspapers, including the St. Louis Post Dispatch which slammed his "tardy, cover-his-ass condemnation of the violence" and called on him to resign.
"Hawley's presidential aspirations have been flushed down the toilet because of his role in instigating Wednesday's assault on democracy," the paper wrote.
Hawley's hometown newspaper The Kansas City Star was equally damning, saying that the senator "has blood on his hands in Capitol coup attempt."
But Hawley never seriously believed the results could be reversed, experts say.
It was naked political calculation, a bid to snatch the Trump mantle when the brash businessman and reality star president leaves the Oval Office on January 20.
Another young Republican who almost certainly has presidential aspirations, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, took a different approach than Hawley.
He argued against any effort by lawmakers in Washington to challenge individual states' results, and appeared to go after Hawley in a scathing tweet after the riot.
"Some senators, for political gain, misled supporters about their ability to challenge the election results," Cotton wrote.
With additional reporting by AFP