In recent weeks, I've found myself wondering just how far Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) might go before House Republican leaders take an interest in his extremism. Evidently, the Arizona Republican hasn't gone quite far enough for the GOP to care, but he's clearly pressing his luck.
Less than two weeks after speaking at a conference organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted a meme on Monday that referenced Fuentes' battle cry. The meme shows a man telling a prostitute to "tell everyone America first is inevitable." ... "America first is inevitable" is Fuentes' slogan, which he invoked during a speech at a far-right event last year and in a tweet that included a photo of him and Gosar together at his America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in February.
Let's take a minute to review how we arrived at this point.
Paul Gosar had already earned a reputation for being one of Congress' most right-wing members. The Arizonan made headlines in January, for example, when he argued that the Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack should be seen as an example of "leftist violence." This came on the heels of Gosar going even further than most GOP lawmakers in insisting that Donald Trump won last year's election, reality be damned.
The congressman has also gained attention for following "out-and-out white nationalists" on Twitter, balking at a resolution condemning QAnon, and disseminating manipulated anti-Obama content via social media.
Gosar also appeared at a right-wing gathering a few years ago and was asked whether the United States was headed for a second civil war. "We're in it," the Arizonan reportedly replied. "We just haven't started shooting at each other yet.'"
But last month, the six-term GOP lawmaker went even further by associating himself with Nick Fuentes.
As we discussed last week, Fuentes has called for "a homeland" for white people, engaged in Holocaust denialism, rallied rioters outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and found himself permanently suspended from YouTube for promoting hate speech.
Fuentes is also a white nationalist who hosted a political gathering a few weeks ago called the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC). Ordinarily, that wouldn't be especially noteworthy, since fringe extremists hold random events all the time, but in this case, Fuentes' conference featured a sitting Republican congressman: Gosar delivered the keynote address at the gathering.
After the congressman spoke, Fuentes delivered some additional remarks of his own, spending 67 minutes "mocking a disabled member of Congress, calling the Jan. 6 riots 'awesome' and demanding protection for the country's 'White demographic core.'"
Gosar and Fuentes also apparently met for coffee the day after the event.
This week, Gosar thought it'd be a good idea to use social media to echo the white nationalist's motto.
All of which brings us back to the excellent question posed by the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts: "Why are no Republicans condemning Rep. Paul Gosar for cozying up to white nationalists?" She added that Gosar is "paling around with white nationalists and the response of his fellow Republicans is … silence?"
To that end, the HuffPost tried to get an answer to those questions, but found most GOP leaders unwilling to say much of anything about Gosar and his associations. To her credit, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was more critical of the Arizonan, but her colleagues in the House GOP leadership have remained silent, at least so far.
Circling back to our earlier coverage, there is an existing blueprint for situations like these. In 2018, the Trump White House fired a speechwriter after officials learned he spoke at a conference attended by well-known white nationalists. Soon after, a Department of Homeland Security policy analyst resigned after his connections to white-nationalist activists was exposed.
What's more, two years ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed disgust with then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), stripped him of his committee assignments, rendered him irrelevant, and watched the Iowan's career evaporate soon after. (King, incidentally, also spoke at Fuentes' gathering.)
GOP officials could treat Gosar the exact same way. At least for now, they don't want to.
Update: It's also worth noting that House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) issued a 2,000-page report late last week "exposing thousands of social media posts by GOP lawmakers attacking the presidential election and spreading lies before and after the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters seeking to overturn the results."
Messages posted from Gosar took up 177 pages in the report: "He peddled baseless claims that the election had been stolen and that officials who had been upholding the legitimate election were committing 'treason and sedition.'"