The Story of January 6 in Two Josh Hawley Photos

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From an iconic fist pump to running away from the mob.

About one hour into Thursday’s primetime hearing on the January 6 insurrection, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) drew viewers’ attention to one of the most infamous images from January 6—a photo of Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, pumping his fist at a crowd of soon-to-be rioters before he entered the Capitol that morning. 

Hawley was a significant player in the events of that day. As I reported in a profile of Hawley for the magazine, the ultra-ambitious Hawley had deceived conservative audiences about the outcome of the election over the preceding weeks (refusing, for instance, to say whether Biden actually would be the next president), and egged on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election by signaling his intention to object to the certification of the Electoral College results. The fist pump became a symbol for how Republicans brought the nation to that point.

But then Luria showed a previously unseen image of Hawley that day—a clip of the young senator running through a corridor to escape the mob he’d cheered on hours earlier.

That broken form is the gait of a man finally reaping what he sowed. Was all of this a little gratuitous? I mean, sure. The committee has shown a knack for getting in a few extra punches on occasion. But it’s also sort of perfect—a postscript to the earlier image that completes the little parable: The Republican Party, or most of it anyway championed a dangerous movement it never truly controlled. Even those who are delusional enough to think they might lead some day lead it have been running from its wrath all along.

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