U.S. lawmaker under fire for anime video depicting violence against Ocasio-Cortez, Biden

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to launch investigations into an anime video tweeted by Republican congressman Paul Gosar that depicted violence against President Joe Biden and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

House Speaker Pelosi calls for ethics probe and urges Republicans to condemn video tweeted by Rep. Paul Gosar

Republican congressman Paul Gosar, shown on Jan. 6 after the riot at the Capitol, tweeted an anime video depicting him swinging swords at U.S. President Joe Biden and killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called for investigations into an anime video tweeted by Republican congressman Paul Gosar that depicted him swinging swords at President Joe Biden and killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated," Pelosi said in a statement on Twitter.

She said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy "should join in condemning this horrific video and call on the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate."

McCarthy's office did not respond to Reuters to requests for comment.

Twitter Inc. added a warning label to the video on Tuesday. Twitter said the video violated its "hateful conduct" policy and restricted engagement with the tweet, blocking the ability to like, reply or retweet it.

However, the social media giant said in a notification attached above the tweet that it had determined "it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

"As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited," Twitter said in an email.

The 90-second video shared by Gosar on Sunday appears to be an altered version of Attack on Titan, a Japanese animated series, and is interspersed with real-life footage of U.S. Border Patrol officers rounding up migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

During one roughly 10-second section of the video, animated characters whose faces have been replaced with Gosar and fellow House Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado are seen fighting other animated characters.

In one scene, Gosar's character is seen striking the one made to look like Ocasio-Cortez in the neck with a sword.

In a tweet Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez, referred to Gosar as "a creepy member I work with" and said he "shared a fantasy video of him killing me." She added that Gosar would face no consequences because Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy "cheers him on with excuses." She also said that institutions "don't protect" women of colour.

On Tuesday morning, Gosar tweeted again, a graphic with text that read, "It's a cartoon, relax."

Democrats suggest Gosar should be reprimanded

The doctored video has been widely condemned by prominent politicians and social media users.

A fellow House Democrat, Ted Lieu of California, referred to Gosar's tweet as "sick behaviour" and said in a tweet of his own: "In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired."

Ocasio-Cortez, shown at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, called Gosar 'creepy' in a response to the anime video. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Jamie Raskin, another House Democrat, said the chamber needed to address Gosar's conduct, calling it "grotesque, dangerous and utterly disgraceful."

One ethics expert told Reuters that threatening behaviour could violate both House ethics rules and federal criminal statutes.

"He is putting his real feelings out there, and his real feelings look very threatening," said Craig Holman, ethics lobbyist for the advocacy group Public Citizen.

Under House rules, ethics violations can result in reprimands, fines, censure or removal from office. Threats can also constitute felony violations punishable by imprisonment.

Gosar was among the lawmakers whose phone or computer records a House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection asked social media and telecommunications companies to preserve as they were potentially involved with efforts to "challenge, delay or interfere" with the certification or otherwise try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He has suggested that Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot inside the Capitol in the Jan. 6 melee, was a martyr who was "executed."

In 2018, six of Gosar's siblings appeared in a campaign ad for his congressional opponent, deeming their brother unfit for office.

In the wake of his Jan. 6 actions and Babbitt comments, Dave Gosar told NBC News he considered his brother "a traitor to this country."

With files from CBC News and The Associated Press