We speak with Jennifer Gosar, the youngest sister of far-right Arizona Congressmember Paul Gosar, who faces censure in a House vote today for posting an animated video on social media that features him murdering Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden with swords. Gosar will be required to stand in the well of the House while the resolution is read. His colleagues will also vote to strip him of his assignments on the Committee on Oversight and Reform, alongside Ocasio-Cortez, and the Committee on Natural Resources. “He’s continuing to sing to that white supremacist base that he fundraises from,” says Jennifer Gosar, who has previously described him as a “sociopath.”
AMY GOODMAN: As we move on to what’s happening in Congress today, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
Republican Congressmember Paul Gosar faces censure for his posting of an animated video on social media where he murders Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Biden. The censure resolution is the most severe form of punishment in the House. Congressman Gosar will be required to stand in the well of the House while the resolution is read. The House will also vote to strip Gosar of his assignments on the Committee on Oversight and Reform, where he serves alongside Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez, and the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez approved of the move to censure, saying, quote, “Threatening the life of a colleague is grounds for expulsion… But given the Republican Party — especially the leader — is too cowardly to really enforce any standard of conduct … censure and committee removal is the next most appropriate step,” she said. This is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking Tuesday.
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Why go after him?
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Because he made threats, suggestions about harming a member of Congress. That is an insult, not only an endangerment of that member of Congress, but an insult to the institution of the House of Representatives. We cannot have members joking about murdering each other, as well as threatening the president of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: This comes as some Republicans have called out Republican leadership for not taking action against Gosar, even as they call to punish the 13 Republican lawmakers who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Congressmember Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who also sits on the Oversight Committee with Congressmember Gosar, called the inaction indefensible. This past weekend, the Wyoming Republican Party voted to kick Cheney out of the party.
While Gosar has taken down the video, he has refused to apologize. On Tuesday, he met with House Republicans during a closed-door conference meeting. Gosar spoke later on The Stew Peters Show.
REP. PAUL GOSAR: Well, I don’t know. You know, we had conference this morning, so I explained to them what was happening. I did not apologize. I just said this video had nothing to do with harming anybody. It’s exactly what you were talking about. It’s an anime. We were trying to reach out to the newer generation that likes these anime, these cartoons, fabricated in Japanese likeness.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Gosar has also spread conspiracy theories about the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and the January 6th attack on the Capitol, calling the rioters “peaceful patriots.”
This comes as Arizona Republican Congressmember Gosar’s own sister, Jennifer Gosar, has called him a “sociopath” and said his behavior could escalate. She and two of her siblings wrote a piece headlined “Our brother Paul Gosar needs to be stopped. Merrick Garland, are you listening?” She joins us now from Seattle.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jennifer Gosar. It’s really important to have you with us. You are the youngest of 10, a sister of the Representative Paul Gosar?
JENNIFER GOSAR: Yeah, that’s correct. There are seven — I’ve got seven brothers and two sisters. And I’m the youngest, and he is the eldest.
AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us your reaction when you saw this animated video of your brother, posted by your brother, murdering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
JENNIFER GOSAR: I was incensed, to be honest with you, but I also felt like a bone-chilling fear, because the way in which that murder takes place in the, quote, “anime video” — and let’s be clear, there is no joking here. The AZ Mirror or some of the Arizona papers have done some really great reporting on this and, in fact, connected that same account to a 2016 anime version, as well, which, again, it’s that same anime cartoon. And again, like, this is something that is not a joke. But to be honest with you, the way in which that happens, I found it bone-chilling, honestly.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in 2018, you and five other siblings were part of an ad campaign for the Democratic challenger to Congressmember Gosar during that election. Three years later, are the feelings among all six of you still the same about the role of your brother?
JENNIFER GOSAR: Like, you know, I don’t — when these types of press requests come up, they come up very quickly, so I don’t check. But, to be honest with you, I’m clear that my brothers and sisters are not about, like, attempted death threats to women of color. They’re not intimidated, and they also do not believe in that kind of sinister approach to governance, right? They understand, as I do, that Paul is incompetent at his office, that he’s never been competent, but that the election of Donald Trump has furthered his visibility and furthered his work, and he certainly utilized it.
And, in fact, if you look at his statement, again, there is reporting that shows that he’s not only not apologizing, he’s continuing to sing to that white supremacist base that he fundraises from. So it’s really — it’s quite concerning, and I am pleasantly surprised that they’ve actually taken the step to have this censure vote and strip him of his committee assignments. It’s the first step, it’s a good step, but I don’t think that’s all that’s called for here.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you — given the deep polarization that continues in American society, many families are confronting these deep divisions within their own families. And as we head into the holiday season and Thanksgiving, your thoughts about how families grapple with these deep divisions among siblings and parents and grandparents?
JENNIFER GOSAR: Yeah, it’s torturous. I’ve had people reach out to me from across the country to say, “Thank you for standing up. I, too, have problems in my family.” You know, there are parallels to this with, you know, prior to the Civil War here in the United States. So, in thinking about this, I think the most important thing to do is to stick with your integrity, to hear that voice, to reach out with compassion but be clear, be strong, because if we don’t stand up to this, it only worsens. Not only have we seen that happen in our country but across the globe. When authoritarianism, when fascism is not stood up to, when it is not stymied with strong, assertive response, it only grows, and the cruelty only increases.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you spoken to your brother Paul, Jennifer?
JENNIFER GOSAR: No, I don’t speak to him. I have no desire to have communication with him. At a personal level, I gave up. When we did those ads in 2018, that was really, for me, a level of clarity, because I realized that the internal conflict I had as an interpreter, sitting with people every day in their healthcare, listening to stories of all kinds of trauma, complex PTSD, you know, the effects of poverty as it strips a body’s ability to maintain itself — right? — as I sat with people, I felt like a hypocrite, because I didn’t know where to speak up. I didn’t know who would listen to me.
So, when the ads came up, I felt like that was the opportunity, and I was not going to miss it. And it made it clear to me that at a personal level my relationship with him was done and that I was going to reengage publicly, because I needed the help of others to actually hold him accountable, that I myself or the efforts of my brothers and sisters proved useless, that we needed actually a bigger intervention in order to hold him accountable.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you — we only have about a minute left, but the January 6th events in the Capitol, the attempted coup, and later hearing your brother, Congressmember Gosar, saying — promising blanket pardons for organizers of that day, your reactions?
JENNIFER GOSAR: Well, isn’t that hypocritical, right? And in fact, he asked for a pardon himself. So, you know, if this is somebody who is innocent of all charges, then why was he asking for a pardon? Why was he dangling pardons? And why aren’t they actually considering that a little bit more? Because one of the things that some of these supporters and rioters themselves have talked about is that here it was, they showed up for Trump, but Trump hasn’t backed them. Well, of course, we know that that would be the case. That is Donald Trump. That is Donald J. Trump in a nutshell. But, of course, my brother pertains to that. And I think it’s interesting how he wants to cover over it with more zealotry and more fundraising. But the truth is, he wasn’t there for his own people, and if we were, in fact, innocent of all those things, why would he offer them a pardon preemptively? Why would he seek a pardon for himself?
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think he will be feeling today, if he does go into the well of the House? This is highly unusual. You’ve called him a sociopath. You demanded the Democrats do something about him, since McCarthy is willing to throw Republicans off of committees and threaten them if they even vote with Democrats, but has not in any way even condemned Gosar.
JENNIFER GOSAR: Yeah, I think if he shows up — I mean, that is a question for us: Will he actually show up? I can tell you I can imagine his skin crawling at having to hear Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi, read him the censure. I can see that being one of the most iring things for him. Without honestly the step of taking his committees, I think it would almost be laughable to him, that he would feel like, “Well, they can’t do anything. They won’t do anything. They’re just a bunch of gutless cowards,” right? So, to take his committee censure, which Representative Grijalva was reported to suggest for this particular censure motion, I think is critical, right? But I think if he actually shows up, he will be utterly ired at having to hear Nancy Pelosi read that to him.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jennifer Gosar, we want to thank you so much for being with us, the youngest sister of Arizona Republican Congressmemeber Paul Gosar, who’s being censured by the House today.
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