Less than two weeks after inciting a deadly domestic terrorist attack on the United States Capitol, Sen. Josh Hawley on Tuesday stalled the swift confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, purportedly over objections to the new administration’s immigration policies.
“Because trying to overturn our election and saluting violent insurrectionists outside the Capitol weren’t enough, Josh Hawley says he will delay confirmation of the next secretary of Homeland Security despite the recent terrorist attack.”
—Rep. Don Beyer
Mayorkas, said Hawley (R-Mo.) in a statement, “has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border given President-elect Biden’s promise to roll back major enforcement and security measures.”
Critics, however, were quick to note that it was the beating heart of the nation’s democracy—the U.S. Capitol—that was so recently under attack, not its southern extremity, and that it was Hawley himself, along with President Donald Trump, some of his prominent supporters, and congressional enablers who were behind the threat, not anyone from the incoming Biden administration.
Because trying to overturn our election and saluting violent insurrectionists outside the Capitol weren’t enough, Josh Hawley says he will delay confirmation of the next Secretary of Homeland Security despite the recent terrorist attack pic.twitter.com/sVLgn8fxPb
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) January 19, 2021
On Tuesday, Mayorkas appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee for a confirmation hearing, at which he vowed to “do everything I can to ensure that the tragic loss of life, the assault on law enforcement, the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy, and the terror felt by you, your colleagues, staff, and everyone present, will not happen again.”
Hawley was one of the leading congressional peddlers of the lie that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from Trump via widespread “fraud,” notions rejected by dozens of courts and the majority of lawmakers of both parties.
Not only did Hawley—who describes himself as “one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers”—attempt to circumvent the Constitution by leading the effort to thwart the Electoral College’s certification of the 2020 election, he also inflamed the insurrectionist mob on January 6 with a fist-pumping solidarity salute shortly before it stormed the Capitol. Five people including a police officer died in the ensuing mayhem.
At least 60 Missouri attorneys have signed a formal complaint seeking to punish Hawley for his role in the Capitol terror attack, the Kansas City Star reported Tuesday. Part of the complaint accuses Hawley of “reckless disregard for the truth.”
Retired St. Louis lawyer Alan Hoffman said consequences ranging from a public reprimand to disbarment should be considered.
“The accusations are serious enough to warrant disbarment,” Hoffman told the Star. “But that’s not my determination to make.”
“That photo of him giving that pseudo-fascist salute was the last straw,” Hoffman added.
“That photo of him giving that pseudo-fascist salute was the last straw.”
—Alan Hoffman, attorney
Back in Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday implored Hawley to resign, with the latter citing his “solidarity with white supremacists” as evidence that he has “no place in public office.”
Following the deadly violence, Hawley clung to the “stolen election” lie, defiantly declaring that he would “never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections.”
Hawley’s move against Mayorkas will delay the installation of Biden’s national security team at a critical moment, following one of the most brazen domestic terror attacks in U.S. history and during a period of what homeland security officials say is an elevated threat of further far-right attacks.
Biden will now enter office with no Cabinet confirmations. Usually, senators confirm senior security-related nominations early in January in the interest of national security and out of deference toward the incoming administration. But these last four years have been anything but usual.