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Image: Josh Hawley
Sen. Josh Hawley speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 24, 2022.Octavio Jones / Reuters file

Hawley’s the wrong guy to pick a fight over ‘democratic norms’

After the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Josh Hawley talked up "democratic norms and the rule of law." Given his record, that was ... unwise.


In the wake of the FBI executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, too many Republicans stepped up to defend Donald Trump and condemn law enforcement, creating an unhealthy competition of sorts: Prominent GOP voices started trying to one-up each other, going further than potential partisan rivals.

As The Washington Post reported, one ambitious Senate Republican went further than most.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Tuesday called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to resign or face impeachment, claiming that the FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s residence in Florida amounted to “an unprecedented assault on democratic norms and the rule of law.” His statement went further than those of most of his colleagues, who demanded explanations for the search from Garland and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, either in briefings or congressional hearings.

The Missouri Republican began by describing Monday’s developments as “a raid by Joe Biden’s FBI.” In reality, it wasn’t much of a "raid" — plain-clothed FBI agents executed a search warrant — and the FBI doesn’t belong to the president. In fact, the bureau is led by a Republican who Trump himself tapped for the job.

Hawley went on to describe the court-approved process as “an unprecedented assault on democratic norms and the rule of law,” before adding, “At a minimum, Garland must resign or be impeached. The search warrant must be published. Christoper [sic] Wray must be removed.”

So, a few things.

First, the idea that the attorney general should no longer be able to serve in his position is so odd that even Hawley hasn’t tried to justify it. The far-right senator simply asserts it, as if its merits are somehow self-evident. They’re not: Garland hasn’t been credibly accused of wrongdoing of any kind.

Second, on a related note, if Hawley believes Trump’s handpicked FBI director should be fired, perhaps the senator could come up with some kind of evidence to suggest Wray acted inappropriately.

But perhaps most important is the Missouri Republican having the audacity to pretend he cares about “democratic norms and the rule of law.”

For now, let’s put aside the inconvenient fact that falsely accusing a sitting president of corrupting federal law enforcement — without so much as a hint of proof or supporting evidence — doesn’t do democratic norms and/or the rule of law any favors.

More to the point, however, is the senator’s unforgettable record. It was Hawley who helped take the lead in trying to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. It was Hawley who voted against certifying Biden’s win. It was Hawley who raised his fist in solidarity with Jan. 6 rioters — before he ran away from them.

It was also Hawley who appeared on Fox News on Jan. 4 and was asked whether he believed Trump would remain president on Inauguration Day 2021. The senator responded that it would “depend on“ what happened on Jan. 6 — a message many radicals likely noticed.

As regular readers know, the GOP senator was denounced by former allies; prominent businesses distanced themselves from him; several independent media outlets called on Hawley to resign in disgrace; and several of his Senate colleagues filed an ethics complaint against him.

Even many Republicans balked. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse added, in reference to Hawley, “Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said the Missourian would be “haunted“ by his actions.

There are policymakers who have credibility on “democratic norms and the rule of law.” Hawley isn’t one of them.