Hawley takes flack for running from Capitol after encouraging Jan. 6 protesters

·4 min read

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley was taking flack online and back home in Missouri on Friday after the Jan. 6 committee showed surveillance video of him running to safety as the mob invaded the Capitol.

It was juxtaposed with an already viral image of the ambitious conservative raising his fist to the crowd of Trump supporters outside the building earlier that same day.

At a speech delivered at Turning Point USA's summer conference in Florida on Friday, Hawley said he didn't regret his actions to vote against certifying election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the overnight hours following the insurrection.

"And I just want to say to all of those liberals out there and the liberal media, just in case you haven't gotten the message yet, I do not regret it," Hawley said. "And I am not backing down."

"I'm not gonna apologize, I'm not gonna cower, I'm not gonna run from you."

In the widely circulated video aired by the Jan. 6 committee, Hawley was seen running through a Senate hallway and then briskly descending a staircase to the basement, fleeing with other senators and staffers to a secure location as rioters closed in after breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Earlier that day, he signaled his support for the protesters shortly before rioters stormed the Capitol, holding up and pumping his fist as he walked near the East Front of the Capitol, an image he continues to use in fundraising.

PHOTO: Sen. Josh Hawley gestures toward a crowd of supporters of President Donald Trump gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's electoral college victory Jan. 6, 2021. (Politico via AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Sen. Josh Hawley gestures toward a crowd of supporters of President Donald Trump gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's electoral college victory Jan. 6, 2021. (Politico via AP, FILE)

"He spoke with a Capitol Police officer who was out there at the time," Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a committee member, said during Thursday's hearing. "She told us that Senator Hawley's gesture riled up the crowd."

"Later that day, Senator Hawley fled after those protesters he helped to rile up stormed the Capitol," Luria said.

When the committee showed an image of Hawley with his fist up, then played the surveillance video of him fleeing, the moment drew audible gasps and even laughter from some inside the hearing room.

The roughly three-second video, shown in slow motion, of Hawley running through a Capitol hallway -- passing by at least four law enforcement officers -- quickly drew ire and sparked memes online.

PHOTO: A video clip of Senator Josh Hawley running through a hallway as rioters storm the Capitol is projected during a public hearing before the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack, on July 21, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Jack Gruber-USA Today)
PHOTO: A video clip of Senator Josh Hawley running through a hallway as rioters storm the Capitol is projected during a public hearing before the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack, on July 21, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Jack Gruber-USA Today)

Twitter users set the surveillance video clip to the Benny Hill Theme song, the "Chariots of Fire" movie theme, and Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," among other music.

The visual of Hawley fleeing the Capitol after earlier signaling he supported the protesters also drew pushback from one of the police officers badly injured at the Capitol.

MORE: Republicans recoil from Missouri Sen. Hawley after siege

"The fist pump combined with what he did in the immediate aftermath just shows the true character or lack thereof," Michael Fanone told Politico after the hearing.

A Metropolitan Police Department officer at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Fanone suffered a heart attack after rioters dragged him down steps, beat, and tased him.

"That guy's a clown," Fanone said of Hawley afterward.

Hawley's office did not respond to an ABC News request for comment on the surveillance video and the committee using it.

Hawley, who is not up for reelection until 2024, also faced criticism at home in Missouri.

The editorial board of Hawley's home-state newspaper, The Kansas City Star, called him a "fleeing coward" Friday.

The senator -- who aligned himself closely with former President Donald Trump -- joined several other Republican lawmakers in formally objecting to the state election results.

MORE: Senators reach deal to clarify 1887 law at center of Jan. 6 attempt to overturn election

Hawley has previously condemned violence on Jan. 6, calling it a threat to "our democratic life" and saying it "undermines the democratic process by which we settle our disputes."

Although Hawley is seen as an ambitious conservative who desires higher political office -- he vehemently denies that prospect when asked. A frequent target of the left, he has recently worked to bolster his public profile.

Just last week, Hawley sparred with a UC Berkeley law professor during a Senate hearing on abortion. The senator suggested only women can become pregnant, while the professor called his questioning "transphobic."

It is unclear if Hawley watched Thursday's Jan. 6 committee hearing.

As the hearing was underway, the firebrand senator appeared live on Fox News, where he spoke about illegal immigration.

The Missouri senator tweeted a link Friday to a coffee mug available for purchase with a silhouette of his fist-pump photo.

Hawley takes flack for running from Capitol after encouraging Jan. 6 protesters originally appeared on abcnews.go.com