Senator Josh Hawley faced intense criticism from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s editorial board on Saturday for pushing former President Donald Trump‘s “big vote-fraud lie” and leading the Republican effort to overturn the 2020 election.
On the eve of Independence Day, the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board accused Hawley of undermining American democracy by “voting to overturn a valid election based on nothing but [Trump] supporters’ disdain for the outcome.”
“Polarization today is so deep and toxic that many have become convinced that any electoral win by the other side is intrinsically illegitimate and should be opposed by any tactics necessary, including tactics outside the Constitution,” the board said, calling Hawley’s efforts “phony.”
“Patriots of conscience, regardless of party, should forcefully reject this inherently un-American mindset,” it added.
On December 30, Hawley broke ranks with then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and party leadership to become the first senator to promise he would formally oppose Congress certifying the Electoral College results on January 6.
As a former Missouri attorney general, Hawley likely knew not to waste his time with patently futile election challenges—at the time more than 50 courts had already rejected claims of voter fraud. Hawley sought another route: to have Congress “investigate allegations of voter fraud.”
The Post-Dispatch editorial board noted that “this dangerous instinct can no doubt be found on both the left and the right, but only on the right has it become a defining characteristic of the movement, embraced at every level of Republican politics.”
The board insisted that the Capitol riot—”among the darkest moments in the nation’s history”—exposed the right’s contempt for electoral democracy.
“It was exposed by the 147 Republican members of Congress (led by Missouri’s own Sen. Josh Hawley), who, having just witnessed firsthand the violence that Trump’s big vote-fraud lie had visited upon the seat of government, further promoted that lie,” the members wrote. “It was exposed in most congressional Republicans‘ failure to hold Trump accountable for what was arguably the most impeachable thing any sitting president has ever done.”
The riot began on the afternoon of January 6 as armed Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, violently clashing with authorities. Five people died in the insurrection, including a Capitol police officer.
Hawley, seven other Republican senators and 139 House GOP members still voted to challenge the Electoral College results in at least one state after Congress reconvened later that evening. Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas received the most scrutiny, and were both accused of inciting violence following their vote.
“On this of all days, Americans should remember there is just one legitimate means of change in a democracy: free and fair elections. Protecting that institution is patriotic. Undermining it isn’t—ever,” the board concluded.
Newsweek reached out to Josh Hawley’s office for comment. This story will be updated with any response.