WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders won’t say whether they will discipline Rep. Paul Gosar for sharing a photoshopped anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat. They also haven't said anything publicly criticizing their fellow member of Congress.
And Gosar, after more than a day of criticism from Democrats over the video, is sticking with a vigorous defense, saying it wasn’t meant to “espouse violence” against anyone but instead suggesting it symbolically depicts arguments over policy in Congress.
“This video is truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy,” he said in a statement Tuesday night. He went on to attack Ocasio-Cortez’s stance on the issue.
A Republican source told BuzzFeed News that House GOP leadership had reached out to Gosar’s office and asked that he release a statement, but it was not clear if what the lawmaker put out was what they had in mind.
BuzzFeed News reached out to all three offices for members of House Republican leadership: Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Elise Stefanik. None of them immediately responded to multiple requests for comment, and none answered questions about disciplining Gosar.
The roughly minute and a half video is a take on Attack on Titan, a popular anime series where the protagonists try to save the world from giant Titans who eat humans.
Gosar posted an altered clip on Monday that shows an anime version of himself gliding through the air with swords attacking a giant who has Ocasio-Cortez’s face. Seconds later, the same character wields his swords at a Joe Biden–like character. Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert also make an appearance in the video as giant-battling heroes.
Twitter flagged the post for hateful content on Tuesday.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the post late Monday night, predicting Republican leadership would be silent in response.
Gosar’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson from his office said in a statement to the Washington Post, “It’s a cartoon. Relax.”
The House member, who represents Arizona, tweeted another meme Tuesday along those lines. In it, one crying character says, “Your cartoon anime scares me,” and another character responds, “It’s a cartoon. Relax.”
Democratic members of Congress have publicly pressured Republican leadership to condemn the post. In a tweet, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate.