While Utah Sen. Mike Lee is opposing the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump, he is calling for the censure of liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for tweeting that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tried “to kill me” by helping to rile up protesters who stormed the Capitol.
The Federalist reported Friday that it obtained a letter that Lee sent to other Republican senators seeking action against Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
“It has come to my attention that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent out a tweet a few hours ago in which she accused one of our colleagues — twice — of attempted murder,” wrote Lee, who has been a close ally of Cruz for years.
“I believe that, as a conference, we should immediately and publicly call on her to retract her statement and apologize. If she refuses to do so — and perhaps even if she doesn’t — I think she should be admonished or censured by the House.”
Conn Carroll, spokesperson for Lee, said The Federalist report was accurate, but he declined to provide the letter or comment further. “Conference communications are usually confidential and we will honor that custom,” he said.
The dust-up came after Ocasio-Cortez began a string of tweets where she called for hearings to investigate the stock trading app Robinhood. That came as the company had temporarily suspended trading of several stock purchases after online users began inflating shares of GameStop to undermine hedge funds.
Cruz said in a tweet that he agreed with that call — but the congresswoman then responded that she doesn’t want his help.
“[Y]ou almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out. Happy to work w/ almost any other GOP that aren’t trying to get me killed,” she tweeted.
That was an apparent reference to the riot and storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Cruz was among leaders of an effort to overturn the Electoral College results that day. While the House impeached Trump on charges that he incited the riot, others have also said that members of Congress who tried to overturn the election share the blame.
Ocasio-Cortez also told Cruz in her tweet, “[I]f you want to help, you can resign.”
Lee wasn’t the only one calling for action against the New York congresswoman. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying if Ocasio-Cortez does not apologize, Republicans will find other ways to condemn her statement.
“If Representative Ocasio-Cortez does not apologize immediately, we will be forced to find alternate means to condemn this regrettable statement,” Roy wrote. “It is my sincere hope that we all stop this heightened rhetoric and move forward to actually do the work the American people sent us here to do.”
While Lee is condemning Ocasio-Cortez for saying Cruz was trying to kill her through actions that may have riled up rioters, he opposed an impeachment trial for Trump this week on charges that he incited that riot. He did that in a vote on whether impeaching a president who has already left office is constitutional, and was among 45 Republicans who voted that it is unconstitutional.
Lee issued a short statement of explanation after that vote.
“If the Senate were to adopt a broad interpretation of the impeachment power — one allowing federal officials to be convicted on impeachment charges even after leaving office,” Lee said in a prepared statement, “the result would not only be problematic, but also contrary to the text, structure, and historical understanding of the Constitution.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was one of only five Republicans to vote that proceeding is constitutional. It signals that Trump will likely not be convicted, because 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Senate Democrats to achieve the two-thirds majority needed.