Five people died in an attack on the Capitol last week ― one of the worst crises the U.S. government has ever faced ― but Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who helped incite the riot, believes he is the real victim.
In an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Hawley did not even mention the violence at the Capitol. Instead, he whined about publisher Simon & Schuster canceling his book deal.
“They don’t like the exercise of free speech,” Hawley said, adding that his starring role as the lead objector to the presidential election merely reprised Democratic objections to elections in prior years.
A key difference, though, is that when Democrats objected to certifying election results, they didn’t do so with the full backing of the losing candidate while also fomenting a crowd of supporters angling for violence.
The threat was so obvious that Capitol Police told lawmakers to use underground tunnels to get from their offices to the Capitol building. Hawley instead opted to make a grand entrance from the Capitol Plaza and raise his fist to the crowd, members of which soon stormed the Capitol, ransacked offices and killed a police officer. They did it all to thwart the certification of the election that President Donald Trump, Hawley and others dishonestly claimed was tainted by fraud.
Simon & Schuster saw what happened and canceled Hawley’s forthcoming book about the tyranny of big tech companies.
“As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,” the publisher said.
Hawley still voted to throw out the election results — even after having to hide in a secure room while the mob trashed the Capitol. He has denounced “violence,” but has only used the word “mob” to describe Simon & Schuster.
In his Fox News interview, he pretended to be the victim of an assault on the First Amendment, even as diehard Trump supporters continue to threaten and physically attack reporters for just doing their jobs.
“I think it shows we are in a period where the First Amendment values and principles of freedom of speech and also freedom of worship, freedom of religion, that these things are really under attack by some quarters, by many quarters,” he said.
The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” but it doesn’t say anything about a private company canceling a contract with a public figure who incites mob violence.
There’s probably no greater threat to constitutional government and the rights it guarantees than a major political party trying to overthrow the results of an election, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the vote to certify last week.
“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” McConnell said. “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. They have all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
McConnell then rebuked Hawley and the handful of other senators pushing voter fraud claims that have been dismissed by dozens of judges, including ones appointed by Trump.
“It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the States on this extraordinarily thin basis, and I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing,” McConnell said.
Hawley ended his interview on Monday with a feeble call for unity.
“The First Amendment is something that unites us as Americans,” he said. “At this time of division and this time of chaos, we’ve got to stand strong for that.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.