Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) on Tuesday defended his fist pump to protesters outside of the Capitol on January 6, calling it a “slur” to conflate peaceful demonstrators with the rioters who stormed the building later that day.
The Capitol riots came as a joint session of Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 election. Hawley, who led efforts to challenge the results, was the subject of severe backlash in the aftermath of the Capitol attack for both his role in questioning the election results and the now-infamous picture depicting his fist pump toward protesters.
“That was as I was entering the House chamber the morning of the 6th,” Hawley told the Washington Post Live. “Those were demonstrators who were out there on the plaza, on the far end of the plaza … standing behind barricades, waving American flags.”
“Some of them were calling, so I gestured toward them,” he added. “They had every right to be there. … When I walked by that particular group of folks were standing there peacefully behind police barricades.”
Asked if he regretted his fist bump, which many took to be a show of solidarity, Hawley said he did not. He called it a “slur” to group the demonstrators with rioters who attacked the Capitol later in the day.
“No, because I don’t know which of those protesters if any of them … participated in the criminal riot,” Hawley said.
Hawley was the first senator to announce he would formally challenge the election results in Congress, leading to pushback from other GOP senators, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)
“The Constitution gives Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national Board of Elections on steroids,” McConnell said at the time in response to efforts to challenge the results. “The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever.”
When Congress reconvened after an hours-long break due to the Capitol riot, Hawley still moved forward with his challenges to Pennsylvania’s election results.
“I promised my constituents I would, I did and I don’t regret that all all,” Hawley said on Tuesday.
He added that he sees Biden as having been legitimately elected.
“He’s the duly elected president of the United States,” Hawley said.