With major supporters abandoning him and contributors including Hallmark asking for their money back, Sen. Josh Hawley on Monday night made his first media appearance since rioters disrupted certification of the presidential election.
Hawley chose the friendly venue of Tucker Carlson’s night opinion show on Fox News to break his silence. During the 2-minute segment, Hawley spoke only in response to questions about the decision of Simon & Schuster to cancel his deal for a book.
“Simon & Schuster and unfortunately a lot of people on the left now think the First Amendment is something they no longer support,” Hawley said. “And I’ll just say this Tucker, at a time of division we have got to rally around the things that unite us and I think the First Amendment and free speech have to be at the top of that list.”
Since the riot, Hawley, who was the first Senator to say he would challenge the electoral vote count, has come under increasing pressure from friends and foes. While one-time supporters leave him behind, Missouri Democrats are trying to bring pressure on him to resign.
State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, filed a resolution Tuesday in the Missouri House calling for Hawley to resign from the Senate.
During the riots, Senators and Representatives were locked in their legislative chambers as mobs sought to break in. One capitol police officer died of injuries sustained during the riot, numerous others were injured and a woman from San Diego died of a gunshot wound.
“Senator Hawley has expressed more remorse over the loss of his book deal than he has over those deaths and injuries or the actions he took that helped create the conditions that made them possible,” the resolution, which would need approval in the Senate, states.
Hawley’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the resolution.
Carlson did not ask Hawley about the riots, the actions by high-profile backers or the decision by Hallmark, a Kansas City-based company, to ask him to return its political action committee contributions. And Hawley offered no comments on those matters.
Carlson, in his introduction, did allude to Hawley’s political difficulties since he took the lead in challenging the electoral votes from several battleground states.
“You are now one of the most despised people in America so I appreciate your taking the time away from being hated to come on the show tonight,” Carlson said.
Neither Hawley’s Senate office nor his campaign has responded to requests from the Missouri Independent for comment since the riots. He has made no public comments on the loss of support from former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, the demand from his largest donor that he be censured by the Senate or the Hallmark demand for its money back.
Simon & Schuster was scheduled to publish Hawley’s book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” in June. In a statement issued the day after the attack on the capitol, the company stated that it “cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
On Carlson’s show, Hawley said the issue with his publisher is whether his voice will be suppressed in violation of the First Amendment, not that his actions angered the company and made a profitable publication difficult.
That message mirrors the statement Hawley released in response to Simon & Schuster last week. In that statement, Hawley called the decision “a direct assault on the First Amendment” and promised he would sue the company.
The only other statements from Hawley either through his Senate office or his campaign on events last week were a note of sympathy for U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, mortally injured during the riot, and a comment taking offense at comments made by President-elect Joe Biden at a Friday news conference.
Biden said that Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were taking part in a campaign of lying about the outcome of the election, amplifying what President Donald Trump said about the election. That was the favored technique of Josef Goebbels, propaganda minister of the German Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945.
“I think the American public has a good clear look at who they are. They’re part of the Big Lie,” Biden said. “Goebbels [said] in the Great Lie, you keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”
Hawley said in a statement from his Senate office that Biden was stoking division by calling him a Nazi.
Hawley objected to the insult, calling it “undignified, immature, and intemperate behavior from the President-elect. It is utterly shameful.”