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Rep. Paul Gosar's history of extremism
The congressman has supported the Bundy clan, pushed antisemitic conspiracy theories, and spoken at an event organized by a white nationalist.
From his seat in Congress, Paul Gosar has done a lot for white supremacists and other extremists in recent months.
The Republican from Arizona has shared their ideas on social media and championed their causes on the floor of the House. He has given them the kind of legitimacy they would otherwise only dream of having inside the U.S. Capitol.
Last week, that dynamic came into play once again with the announcement that white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes planned to host a fundraiser for the six-term congressman as part of what Fuentes called his “White Boy Summer” tour.
“He is really, honestly, hands down the best congressman in America,” Fuentes said on a livestream Monday night from a Las Vegas hotel room. “He is the real deal.”
Gosar initially appeared to acknowledge the fundraiser, tweeting that he was “not sure why anyone is freaking out.” He even used the capitalized name of Fuentes’ group, America First, in the tweet. But as the uproar continued, the congressman began telling reporters in Washington that he had “no idea what's going on.” He stopped short of denying the event was or had been in the works.
The fundraiser was advertised to take place on Friday in Phoenix. Fuentes continued to promote the event through Thursday night. But both men went radio silent about it after that, leaving open the question of whether it even took place.
Gosar’s relationship with Fuentes goes back to at least February, when he was the surprise speaker at a conference in Florida organized by the 22-year-old. But Gosar has embraced white supremacist and other extremist causes for years. He has pushed antisemitic conspiracy theories, stoked the flames of the QAnon cult, and most recently sided with those who rioted at the U.S. Capitol.
Below, The Informant has compiled a (likely incomplete) list of times when Gosar flirted with or fully embraced the cause of extremists. The incidents are listed in chronological order.
1. Birther curious
Even before Gosar was elected to Congress, he was flirting with racist ideas.
During his successful 2010 campaign for the House, he was interviewed by an Arizona radio station and asked if he believed that President Obama was a U.S. citizen.
By that point, racist conspiracy theorists had claimed for years that Obama, who was born in Hawaii and became the nation’s first Black president, was secretly born in Kenya and was ineligible for the presidency. Gosar’s answer, just weeks before the election, left the door open for the birthers.
“Eh, I think that’s for everybody else to tell,” Gosar said at the time. “It seems like he’s passed the first test, but you know, I’m sure that will come up and it’s for the courts and for other people to decide.”
2. Traveling to Bundy Ranch
Gosar was among a handful of Republicans from Arizona who traveled to Nevada in April 2014 to stand with rancher Cliven Bundy, an anti-government figure who had teamed up with numerous militia members to engage in an armed standoff with federal authorities.
Gosar told the Arizona Republic newspaper that Bundy’s supporters were simply “peacefully demonstrating.”
Gosar also tweeted a photo from Bundy Ranch while standing next to Kelli Ward, who at the time was an Arizona state senator. Ward is now the chair of the Arizona Republican Party.
3. Charlottesville conspiracy theories
Weeks after the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Gosar suggested in an interview that billionaire George Soros may have secretly funded the violent neo-Nazis who carried out the violence there. Soros, who is Jewish, is often the subject of antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Speaking to VICE News in October 2017, Gosar launched into conspiracy theories about the Charlottesville rally. He falsely suggested the rally, which brought together an array of neo-Nazi and other white supremacist groups, was organized by “the left." He then falsely suggested it was funded by Soros.
A reporter for VICE asked him: “Do you think George Soros funded the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville?”
“Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?” Gosar replied.
4. Siblings call out Gosar’s “dog whistle”
After the VICE segment was broadcast, seven of Gosar’s siblings wrote a letter to the Kingman Daily Miner, a small newspaper in his district, saying that he needed to apologize to Soros.
They called his comments an “anti-semitic dog whistle.”
“Paul had no problem going completely out of his way to malign Mr. Soros on Vice, so we can’t imagine anything less than a complete retraction and genuine apology,” the siblings wrote. “It is extremely upsetting to have to call you out on this, Paul, but you’ve forced our hand with your deceit and anti-semitic dog whistle.”
Gosar never apologized.
5. Dinner with Belgian white nationalist
In July 2018, Gosar flew to London to take part in a rally for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, a British anti-Muslim activist who routinely goes by name “Tommy Robinson.”
While he was there, Gosar had a lengthy dinner with a racist Belgian politician who has been involved in the worldwide white nationalist movement. The politician, Filip Dewinter, later posted a photo on Twitter of the two of them smiling together.
Dewinter, who spoke at a white nationalist conference in the U.S. two year earlier, told CNN that he saw the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which Gosar is part of, as an ally in the fight for “Western identity.”
“We are fighting the same battle — it is certainly the same — for our Western identity,” Dewinter said, “and although there can be some differences about several issues, we are fighting for the same goals, yes, and we are allies, yes.”
6. Following neo-Nazis on Twitter
If someone follows a huge number of Twitter accounts, chances are there will be some questionable ones in the mix. But in May 2019, Gosar was following just 792 other Twitter users on his personal account. Of those, a reporter for Talking Points Memo discovered, there were some hardcore neo-Nazis in the bunch.
One account had a profile picture that included Pepe, the cartoon frog embraced by white nationalists, and it routinely posted racist comments, including the N-word. Another account had “88” in its username. The number is a neo-Nazi code that means “Heil Hitler.”
At the time, Gosar also followed prominent white nationalist Stefan Molyneux, who has since been banned from Twitter and YouTube.
7. Retweeting a QAnon believer
In August 2019, Gosar retweeted a follower of the antisemitic QAnon movement. The follower’s original tweet, which has since been deleted, alluded to a prediction that Democrats, members of the media, and others would soon be rounded up in mass arrests and executed. Gosar’s chief of staff told the Arizona Mirror at the time that the retweet was a mistake, but the congressman never deleted it.
8. Speaking at QAnon-friendly event
Gosar spoke in October 2019 at a QAnon-friendly event in Arizona called “Trumpstock.” Here’s how The New York Times described it at the time:
The speakers included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”
9. Photographed with Proud Boys
Gosar was photographed hanging out with a member of the Proud Boys on the Fourth of July last year. The Proud Boys are a group of self-described “Western chauvinists” who have been involved in violence throughout the U.S. and who have ties to white supremacists. The photo was snapped and posted to Twitter by an NBC News reporter who was covering festivities taking place in Arizona amid the COVID pandemic. Also seen in the photo was a man wearing a T-shirt for the anti-government Oath Keepers group.
10. Voting against condemnation of QAnon
In October, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to condemn the QAnon movement, whose adherents had been involved in kidnappings and attempted terrorism and which the FBI had described as a domestic terrorism threat. Gosar was one of 17 Republicans in Congress to vote against the measure.
11. Joining forces with Pizzagate promoter
The day after the 2020 election, Gosar took to the streets of Phoenix along with armed protestors who were upset about Donald Trump’s loss of the presidential election. It was the beginning of what would become the “Stop the Steal” movement, which peaked two months later with the U.S. Capitol riot. At the November 4 rally, Gosar stood with far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, best known for promoting “Pizzagate,” the bogus theory that a Washington pizza shop was secretly a child trafficking den.
Ten days after the rally, Gosar credited Cernovich for the wave of post-election protests being held across the nation. He compared the conspiracy theorist to Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks.
12. “We just haven't started shooting yet…”
A leader with the anti-government Oath Keepers posted a video on November 22 saying that Gosar had told his group that the U.S. was already in the midst of another Civil War but that “we just haven’t started shooting yet.” The video went largely unseen until The New York Times reported on it in January.
13. In league with Fuentes
It’s unclear when Gosar first crossed paths with white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. But on December 9, the congressman shared a tweet that compared him favorably to Fuentes as well as to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The tweet was from an account called “Yung Zoomer.” It also hailed President Donald Trump and Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, all of whom had been pushing the Stop the Steal movement, which claimed that Joe Biden won the presidential election through fraud. “Let’s keep our momentum,” Gosar wrote while sharing the tweet that praised the five men.
14. “Stop the Steal” rally alongside extremists
Just weeks before the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Gosar took part in a rally in Arizona alongside extremist figures Ali Alexander and Michael Coudrey as well as far-right members of his own party.
Alexander had buddied up with a number of extremists over the years, including Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, and was the primary figure for the Stop the Steal movement. Coudrey had attempted to rebrand as a conservative Republican after years of pushing antisemitic and racist ideas, including that the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists was some kind of “false flag” event.
Gosar bragged about the event that same day in a since-deleted tweet: “I took the stage and made it mine. Arizona patriots are not giving up.”
Alexander would later say on a livestream that Gosar was one of three congressmen who helped him “scheme up” the January 6 Stop the Steal rally in Washington, DC. The other congressmen he named were Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama, both Republicans. That rally led to the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
15. Speech organized by white nationalist
Gosar spoke on February 26 in Florida at the America First Political Action Conference, which was organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Neither the congressman nor the organizer advertised his appearance in advance, so the speech came as a surprise to people in the room as well as anyone watching a livestream of the event.
“Wow, what a group!” Gosar said after he was introduced to cheers and applause. He spoke about topics popular with the crowd, including his support of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and his opposition to the “rapid acceleration of censorship.”
“Now, today, the Democrats do culturally what they cannot do legally,” Gosar said in his speech. “Intimidation and suppression of ideas by canceling, vandalism, doxing and death threats. This is the new America they want. This is not the America of our fathers and our forefathers.”
The congressman told The Washington Post the next day that he denounced “white racism,” but it was unclear whether he meant that as racism by white people or against white people. Fuentes tweeted a photo that same day showing him and Gosar having a cup of coffee together. Gosar appeared to face no repercussions for his speech.
16. Tweeting a slogan
Less than 10 days after speaking at the Fuentes event, Gosar’s personal account tweeted out a meme that included the white nationalist’s slogan: “America First is inevitable.” The image featured a man offering to pay a prostitute to say the slogan.
17. America First Caucus
Along with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Gosar reportedly planned to lead what was to be known as the America First Caucus in Congress. According to the politics newsletter Punchbowl News, , which revealed the plans in April, materials distributed for the caucus called for things like “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” After serious blowback to the group’s racist overtones, both Gosar and Greene distanced themselves from the idea.
18. Defending Capitol rioters
Gosar has become a vocal defender of the hundreds of people arrested by the FBI in the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
On May 12, during a hearing of the House oversight committee, which he sits on, Gosar gave an impassioned defense of the rioters. The political news publication The Uprising noted that Gosar claimed the Justice Department was “harassing” people whom he described as “peaceful patriots across the country.”
Gosar has also taken up the cause of Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and QAnon believer who was shot to death by a Capitol police officer while taking part in the riot. At the hearing, Gosar said she had been “executed.”
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