Missouri senator Josh Hawley has been criticised for a “bizarre and shameless” photoshoot praising his state’s National Guard members who are currently supporting police officers guarding the US Capitol.
On his Twitter account on Wednesday, Mr Hawley posted a picture of him posing in solidarity with members of the Missouri National Guard, who are helping protect the Capitol following the riots on 6 January.
“Honored to meet with the @Missouri_NG 220th Engineer Construction Company who’ve been proudly supporting Capitol Police,” the senator tweeted on Wednesday alongside a photo of him standing in solidarity with the officers.
“Special thanks to Specialist Ben Laws and Sergeant Trey Lawrence for their outstanding service during the unit’s deployment. You make Missouri proud,” he added.
Mr Hawley, a Republican senator elected in 2019, faced controversy earlier this year after he led efforts in Congress to block the certification of votes to confirm Joe Biden as US president on 6 January.
Mr Hawley, an ally of Mr Trump, was the first senator to announce that he would challenge Mr Biden’s victory at the certification of votes in Congress, but was quickly joined by other Republicans including Texas senator Ted Cruz in what was later dubbed the “Sedition Caucus”.
After a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol during the certification of votes, causing House representatives to barricade themselves inside offices, Mr Hawley and Mr Cruz continued their challenge.
Seven Democratic senators called for an ethics probe into Mr Hawley and Mr Cruz in the wake of the riots, claiming that their efforts and false claims of voter fraud in favour of the Democrats helped lead to the insurrection, in which five people died and several more injured.
Following his photoshoot on Wednesday, several social media users criticised Mr Hawley, pointing out that the Missouri National Guard troops are only stationed at the Capitol because of the riots on 6 January.
Responding to Mr Hawley’s post on Wednesday, writer Jason Bailey asked: “Hey Josh quick q, why are they there,” as user @Halcyon270 wrote: “He thinks we’ll forget; we’ll never forget.”
Army veteran Adrien Fontes described the post as “bizarre” and “shameless” as Iraq War veteran Ruben Gallago claimed: “This is like Jefferson Davis standing with the Union Army.”
User @DjRodgers1231 simply claimed that Mr Hawley is “the most shameless person in congress,” while @AmoneyResists added that the senator “needs to do less photo ops & more resigning.”
An overwhelming majority of senators voted to advance the legislation directing the Justice Department to “facilitate the expedited review” of hate crimes against Asian communities.
However, six Republicans — Texas senator Mr Cruz, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Mr Hawley from Missouri, Rand Paul from Kentucky, Tommy Tuberville from Alabama, and Roger Marshall from Kansas — voted against it.
Lawmakers voted with a majority of 92 against 6 in the Senate for the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, bringing it a step closer to being passed, as a step forward in denouncing the sharp increase in discrimination and violence against Asians in the US amid coronavirus.
The Independent has contacted Mr Hawley’s office for comment.