Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar’s staff-made anime video showing his character killing a congresswoman and attacking the president could earn him a rare censure from his colleagues.
Gosar posted a video Sunday that uses the opening credits of the anime Attack on Titan interwoven with scenes of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and Border Patrol cops. In one scene, a character with Gosar’s photoshopped face uses a sword to kill a “Titan” with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s photoshopped face, and in another scene, the character bearing Gosar’s face comes at President Joe Biden with a sword.
A group of more than a dozen House Democrats led by California Rep. Jackie Speier, the chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, said Wednesday that they would introduce a resolution Friday to formally censure Gosar.
“For a Member of Congress to post a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden is a clear-cut case for censure,” Speier and her colleagues said.
“For that Member to post such a video on his official Instagram account and use his official congressional resources in the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials goes beyond the pale.”
The statement goes on to reference the January 6 riot at the Capitol and says that “violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted.”
Speier and her fellow Democrats also called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s silence on the Gosar video “tacit approval and just as dangerous.”
Gosar was heavily criticized for the video, which Twitter labeled as “hateful conduct” (the platform disabled sharing for the video but did not take it down). Ocasio-Cortez, who’s been a vocal critic of U.S. immigration policies, tweeted that the video was an example of how “institutions don’t protect [women of color]” and referred to Gosar as a white supremacist, as well as a “collection of wet toothpicks.”
Responding to a question about the video Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that there’s “absolutely no place for any type of violence or that type of language in the political system. And it should not be happening, and we should be condemning it.”
Fewer than two dozen House members have ever been formally censured, with the last being former Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel in 2010. If the attempt to censure Gosar is successful, the main consequence would be that he’s forced to stand in the House in front of his colleagues as the censure resolution is read. Though censured members are required to give up any committee chairmanships they hold—Rangel was forced to give up his role heading the powerful Ways and Means Committee—that doesn’t apply to Gosar, since the Republicans are in the minority.
Gosar’s own account later deleted the video, but he put out a statement defending it as a cartoon that “depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr. Biden.”
“It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life,” Gosar’s office said in a statement. “Congressman Gosar cannot fly. The hero of the cartoon goes after the monster, the policy monster of open borders.”
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.