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Rep. Clyburn: We should be voting to expel Rep. Gosar, not censure him
01:55 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn dismissed GOP threats of retaliation in response to Democrats’ censure resolution against Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, saying Republicans are “free to do that” if they win back control of the House in next year’s midterms.

“Well, if they take back the House, they’re free to do that,” Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, said Wednesday on CNN. “But if they really want to be representatives of what America is all about, they will take each case, and deal with it, the same way we’re doing.”

Clyburn told CNN that “Nobody is out looking for anybody to censure.”

“The American people will know whether or not this is a standard in this particular instance,” he said. “If they want to play childish games, then that’s for them. I don’t think the American people is going to stand for that. I certainly will not.”

Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina came to Gosar’s defense Wednesday, writing on Twitter ahead of the censure vote, “I don’t want to live in a world where tweeting anime videos gets you canceled by the miserable mob.”

“If this bothers you, shut up. You’re not that important,” Cawthorn wrote.

Gosar is facing censure for his posting of a photoshopped anime video to his Twitter and Instagram accounts showing him appearing to kill Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and attacking President Joe Biden. Democrats’ decision to pursue a censure resolution and to strip Gosar of committee assignments follows GOP leadership’s not to pursuing any action against the Arizona Republican congressman.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that Gosar had explained his actions during a closed-door conference meeting on Tuesday morning, and his explanation was well received in the conference, according to attendees.

Gosar has not apologized publicly for his post. He has issued a statement saying he doesn’t “espouse violence or harm towards any member of Congress or Mr. Biden” but defended the video as “truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.”

Clyburn also said he thinks Democrats should have moved to expel Gosar, saying if someone posts an illustration of murdering a member that “goes far beyond the pale and that person should not even be a member of this body.”

“I think it would have been the right thing to do to move to expel him,” Clyburn said. “But it is not what we have decided to do as a collective body, because we think quite frankly the Republican Conference has some responsibility here. They have been totally silent on this. What is that about? I just don’t understand how we can as members of Congress expect for the public to respect us when we don’t demonstrate that respect ourselves.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also dismissed the idea that Republicans could turn tables on Democrats and remove them from committees assignments if they retake the majority next year.

“If Democrats did something as egregious as Mr. Gosar, they ought to be censured,” he said. “This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue about safety, not inciting violence, and acting in a way that is consistent with what the House ought to expect.”

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

CNN’s Melanie Zanona, Kristin Wilson and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.