White House condemns Gosar video, Pelosi urges investigations

U.S. House Natural Resources Committee hearing on "The U.S. Park Police Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square", on Capitol Hill

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The White House and Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday condemned an anime video tweeted by Republican congressman Paul Gosar that depicted him swinging swords at President Joe Biden and killing Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"This should not be happening, and we should be condemning it," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called on a congressional ethics panel and law enforcement officials to investigate.

"Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated," Pelosi said in a statement on Twitter.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's office did not respond to requests for comment.

The 90-second video shared by Gosar on Sunday appears to be an altered version of a Japanese animated series.

A House Ethics Committee staff official declined to comment.

One ethics expert said that threatening behavior could violate both House ethics rules and federal criminal statutes.

"He is putting his real feelings out there, and his real feelings look very threatening," said Craig Holman, ethics lobbyist for Public Citizen.

Under House rules, ethics violations can result in reprimands, fines, censure or removal from office. Threats can also constitute felony violations punishable by imprisonment.

But Gosar appeared unbowed. "I will always fight for the rule of law, securing our borders and defending the America First agenda," the lawmaker said in a statement.

The Arizona Republican, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, voted against certifying Biden's 2020 election victory in January, has backed Trump's claims of a stolen election and has described Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 as "peaceful patriots."

Twitter added a warning label to the video, saying it violated its "hateful conduct" policy. It also restricted engagement with the tweet. But Twitter said in a notification attached above the tweet that it had determined "it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

Ocasio-Cortez responded to Gosar's tweet with a Twitter https://bit.ly/303BCX8 thread noting the video posted by a "creepy member I work with," and said she expected no consequences for Gosar from the House Republican leader.

Other Democrats called for Gosar to leave office.

"In any other job in America, if a coworker made a video killing another coworker, that person would be fired," members of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and by Shivam Patel in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; editing by Andy Sullivan and Jonathan Oatis)