Republican Missouri Senator Josh Hawley defended himself after coming under criticism for allegedly ignoring the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump by propping his legs up in the Senate gallery and reviewing paperwork.
The criticism was particularly focused on the fact that Hawley was the first Republican senator who pledged to oppose the January 6 congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win. His vote seemed to support Trump's repeatedly debunked assertion that the election had been "stolen" by widespread voter fraud.
However, Hawley has said he chose to sit in the gallery because it was less "claustrophobic" than the crowded Senate floor and because it gave him a better view of the impeachment managers. "I've got the trial briefs with me and I've also got my notes that I'm taking during the—during the proceedings," Hawley said to reporters, explaining his reading of paperwork during the trial.
"Republican Sen. Josh Hawley — who objected to Biden's win and encouraged the Capitol attack — is currently sat with his feet up in the Senate gallery. Not once has he paid attention to the impeachment trial," national political reporter Hugo Lowell wrote on Twitter before Hawley's comments explaining his behavior.
"Republican Josh Hawley is ignoring the trial reading stuff that has nothing to do with the impeachment... even sitting with his legs up on the seat in front of him. If this gets you kicked out of Biology class, why doesn't it get him kicked out of the Senate?" writer Chip Franklin wrote.
"Josh Hawley is sitting in the gallery, not on the floor, 'continuing to read papers in unmarked manila folders. They resembled the folders he had at his desk on Tuesday, but of course his being up in the gallery meant reporters in the gallery couldn't see' in them," NBC News correspondent Mike Memoli wrote.
"Hawley said Democrats are presenting their case in a "very understandable, easy-to-follow manner." But he added: "I don't think it's going to change any minds. In my view, we don't have jurisdiction," wrote CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju.
"It should be forever January 6th in how we view Josh Hawley, who has shown zero remorse or regret for instigating an effort to overthrow the US government," former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote.
"Josh Hawley is making a spectacle of himself deliberately. Why would he disrespect those who died on Jan 6 and after? Why?" Author Anne Rice wrote.
Trump stands accused of inciting the January 6 insurrection which sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in his favor. Five people died in the insurrection and roughly 140 police officers were injured, including one with a broken spine, a lost eye, lost fingers and some with brain damage.
On the evening of the insurrection, the editorial board of The Kansas City Star, a newspaper in Hawley's home state of Missouri, published an editorial entitled, "Assault on democracy: Sen. Josh Hawley has blood on his hands in Capitol coup attempt."
"Hawley, [Republican Kansas Senator Roger] Marshall and other Republicans who upheld [President Donald] Trump's con about widespread fraud knew all along that his claims were bogus. Now that they've seen exactly where those lies have landed us," the editorial stated.
Former Republican Missouri Senator and United Nations Ambassador John C. Danforth has said he regrets endorsing Hawley during the 2018 midterm elections after Hawley led the Senatorial Republican challenge of the Electoral College's vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.
"Supporting Josh and trying so hard to get him elected to the Senate was the worst mistake I ever made in my life," Danforth said in a phone interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Newsweek contacted Hawley's office for comment.