During the House select committee’s hearings on Thursday, the panel showcased surveillance video of Senator Josh Hawley running down a Capitol hall as rioters stormed the venue on January 6. As the committee showed the footage, laughter erupted in the hearing room. A swarm of memes mocking the Republican senator was unleashed online as well.
Rep. Elaine Luria shared the footage during the second hour of the committee hearing. She described how Josh Hawley ignited the protestors to storm the building by raising his fist in solidarity with Donald Trump. Luria said:
“Earlier that afternoon, before the joint session started, Hawley walked across the east front of the Capitol. As you can see in this photo, he raised his fist in solidarity with the protesters already massing at the security gates."
"We spoke with a Capitol Police officer that was out there at the time. She told us that Senator Hawley’s gesture riled up the crowd. And it bothered her greatly because he was doing it in a safe space, protected by the officers in the barriers. Later that day, Senator Hawley fled after those protesters he helped to rile up stormed the Capitol. See for yourself.”
As rioters stormed the building in the now-viral footage, Hawley was also seen briskly walking out of the building alongside other lawmakers after they were evacuated from a joint session of Congress following Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory.
Netizens react to video of Josh Hawley running out of the Capitol
Internet users relentlessly mocked the senator for sprinting out of the building despite seemingly supporting the rioters. A plethora of memes and jokes appeared online.
A few hilarious tweets read:
Hawley had defended supporting the rioters
In response to the flak he received for siding with the rioters, Hawley told The Washington Post, a few months after the Capitol storming:
"I waved to them, gave them the thumbs-up, pumped my first to them and thanked them for being there, and they had every right to do that."
"I don’t know which of those protesters, if any of them, those demonstrators, participated in the criminal riot. And I think it’s a slur on the thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people who came to the Capitol that day to demonstrate peacefully to lump them in with the criminal rioters and say, 'Oh, you’re all basically the same.'"
Both parties criticized Josh Hawley for his January 6 actions. He was also disowned by his mentor, former Missouri Senator John Danforth, who stated that supporting the 42-year-old was "the biggest mistake I’ve ever made."