Goldman Files Censure Against Stefanik for Calling Jan. 6 Defendants ‘Hostages’


Representative Dan Goldman, Democrat of New York, on Wednesday announced he would file a formal censure of Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, accusing her of peddling voter fraud conspiracy theories that fueled the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol and supporting rioters who violently threatened members of Congress, referring to them as “hostages.”

Mr. Goldman’s resolution marked the latest instance of a lawmaker moving to use what was once a rare form of congressional punishment — a public reprimand just short of expulsion that historically has been used against members only after a criminal conviction or finding of wrongdoing — to condemn the speech of a colleague.

But he said he did not plan to force quick action on the measure, as House rules allow any lawmaker to do.

“Our preference would be for Republicans to recognize that kind of rhetoric has to stop and find a spine and stand up to Donald Trump,” Mr. Goldman said in an interview. He said he would consider seeking to force a vote in the future, if G.O.P. leaders fail to take up the matter themselves, something that appears exceedingly unlikely.

Appearing on “Meet The Press” this month to mark the third anniversary of the Capitol assault, Ms. Stefanik said she harbored “concerns about the treatment of the Jan. 6 hostages,” echoing former President Donald J. Trump’s use of the term to describe his supporters who have been imprisoned for trespassing and assaulting police officers that day.

Ms. Stefanik, who previously called on the Justice Department to prosecute those responsible, also said during the interview that “we’re seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we’re seeing it against conservatives.”

Democrats have widely condemned her use of the word “hostages” to refer to hundreds of individuals who were found guilty of crimes related to the assault on the Capitol.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, said that Ms. Stefanik “should be ashamed of herself.” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, who served as a member of the House panel that investigated the Jan. 6 attack, speculated on social media that she did so because she was auditioning to be Mr. Trump’s running mate.

In 2021, Democrats censured Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, for posting an animated video that depicted him killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and assaulting President Biden.

Before Mr. Gosar, just one member of the House had been censured in almost four decades.

House Democrats have tried to keep their members aligned in opposing Republican efforts to censure members of their caucus for their speech, arguing that doing so erodes a basic tenet of democracy. And they have generally been successful in keeping Democrats mostly united against the Republican-led censures — with the exception of the official condemnation of Ms. Tlaib, which some pro-Israel Democrats broke with their leaders to support.

Mr. Goldman defended his decision to introduce the censure and said he had the backing of Democratic leaders.

“What it comes down to is whether the speech by a member of Congress — does it go over the line where it promotes violence, some form of discrimination or bring serious disrepute on the institution,” Mr. Goldman said. Ms. Stefanik, he said, had crossed that line.

“It directly relates to the safety and security of this body,” he said of her statements. “If you provide comfort to those people who have been charged and convicted of violent attempts to overthrow our government, you are supporting people who attacked the Capitol and attacked this body.”

Before he was elected to Congress, Mr. Goldman served as the lead counsel for House Democrats during the first Trump impeachment inquiry, when Ms. Stefanik surprisingly emerged as Mr. Trump’s most aggressive defender on the Intelligence Committee.

“I watched her sell her soul for her own political ambition, firsthand,” he said. “I am aware of how she saw an opportunity and completely changed her entire approach to politics to pursue that; I saw that happen firsthand.”

A top aide to Ms. Stefanik, Alex DeGrasse, issued a lengthy statement in response, accusing Mr. Goldman, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, of “unethically trading tens of millions of dollars in stocks.” A spokesman for Mr. Goldman has said that his portfolio is managed by a third party without his knowledge.

Mr. DeGrasse also claimed that “failed far-left House Democrats are in absolute desperate free fall that Elise Stefanik continues to be one of the most effective members of Congress.”

He called Mr. Goldman “corrupt” and “radical,” and said he and other Democrats “are desperate because they know Joe Biden is going to lose this November.”

Republicans are all but certain not to schedule a floor vote on Mr. Goldman’s censure targeting one of their leaders. Should he decide to bring it up as a privileged matter, the House would have to take action on it — most likely a vote to table, or kill, it — within two legislative days.

Mr. Goldman’s measure also asserts that Ms. Stefanik has filed vindictive ethics complaints against a federal judge overseeing criminal cases involving the Jan. 6 insurrections and has falsely referred to the indictment of Mr. Trump by Jack Smith, the special counsel, as “attempts to criminalize the First Amendment.”



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