Dan Goldman Pushes Censure Against Elise Stefanik For Calling Jan. 6 Prisoners 'Hostages'

WASHINGTON ― Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce a censure resolution against the No. 3 Republican in the House over her support for rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) earlier this month referred to imprisoned rioters as “hostages,” as though they’d been unlawfully kidnapped. More than 1,200 people were arrested for violating federal law that day, with the charges typically based on video evidence.

“January 6th was the gravest attack on American democracy since the Civil War and Congresswoman Stefanik’s persistent and continued support for the perpetrators of an insurrection is contemptuous,” Goldman said Wednesday in a press release.

“In putting her personal ambitions over her integrity, Congresswoman Stefanik has been Donald Trump’s biggest congressional cheerleader, even though our mutual home state of New York overwhelmingly opposes him,” he continued.

Goldman told reporters that he did not plan to file the censure resolution as “privileged,” meaning he would not force the House to take a vote. But he said he would consider doing so if Republicans didn’t condemn Stefanik’s remarks.

Censure is a formal reprimand that merely expresses the mood of the House. It has no practical consequences except that votes take up time.

Former President Donald Trump has openly embraced the Jan. 6 rioters, describing them as “hostages” and falsely claiming they’ve gotten a raw deal from the criminal justice system. In reality, many Jan. 6 defendants facing assault charges have gotten lighter sentences than people convicted of assault nationwide, according to a recent Washington Post report.

Asked about Trump’s comments during a Jan. 7 interview on “Meet the Press,” Stefanik echoed them.

“I have concerns about the treatment of January 6th hostages,” she said. “I have concerns — we have a role in Congress of oversight over our treatments of prisoners. And I believe that we’re seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we’re seeing it against conservatives.”

Stefanik’s pro-rioter comment stands out even as her colleagues increasingly downplay the attack on Congress or suggest it was a setup by the FBI. But it aligns her more closely with Trump, who has called Jan. 6 a “beautiful day” and said he would consider pardoning rioters if he’s reelected.

In his statement, Goldman said comparing Jan. 6 rioters to hostages “demeans the actual hostages currently held in captivity in Gaza.”

House lawmakers have increasingly taken disciplinary action against each other in recent years. Last year, the House expelled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) for fraud and Republicans censured Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). In 2021, Democrats censured Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).