Few members of Congress have been as loud in repeating Donald Trump's false election claims as Rep. Paul Gosar, the Arizona Republican who rallied supporters of the president to overturn the election and has been at the forefront of efforts to downplay the Capitol riot.
Gosar has been at the center of the national controversy, which has also been very personal for his siblings — six who had been vocal in urging voters not to re-elect him to Congress because of his fringe views. Now, some want him removed from office, and they criticize Democratic leadership for not acting more quickly.
Two of his estranged siblings told NBC News in interviews that the congressman's conduct around the riot should be investigated and that he should face more serious consequences for his ongoing efforts to delegitimize the election results and the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"I consider him a traitor to this country. I consider him a traitor to his family," Gosar's brother, Dave, a Wyoming attorney, said. "He doesn't see it. He's disgraced and dishonored himself."
The congressman's family first gained national notoriety when six of his siblings appeared in an ad endorsing his 2018 Democratic opponent. In a subsequent tweet, Gosar, whose office did not respond to requests for comment for this article, deemed those brothers and sisters to be angry, anti-Trump Democrats (Pete Gosar, the former chair of the Wyoming Democratic Party and one of the congressman's siblings, did not partake in the ad). Their mother, speaking with The New York Times, backed the congressman.
Dave Gosar, one of the more outspoken members of the family, said his falling out with his brother began soon after his brother ran for office in 2010 and "revealed to me that he was a birther," promoting the false idea that then-President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
Family members decided to speak out in 2017 after Gosar suggested that the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a counterprotester was killed, was a false flag — that the event was actually the product of sympathetic actors seeking to hurt conservative causes.
Jennifer Gosar, the youngest of the congressman's nine siblings, told NBC News she's confident her brother played a significant role in the effort that culminated in the Capitol riot.
"I was concerned before," Jennifer Gosar, a Seattle-based Spanish translator, said of the riot. "I was horrified during, and I'm shocked that he's not censured now, that there hasn't been a process for expulsion. I mean, I think all the elements are clear. And maybe there's something I'm missing, but they're not acting on it to really allay any fears of the public."
"I'm concerned there are leaders in the Democratic Party, there are leaders across ideologies who do not speak up," she said. "I just can't fathom it."
'I have never instigated violence'
Few elected officials on the right embraced efforts to overturn last fall's election quite like Gosar. He told Trump supporters at a December protest at the Arizona Capitol, "Once we conquer the Hill, Donald Trump is returned to being the president."
At Trump's rally before the riot, Gosar tweeted: "Biden should concede. I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don’t make me come over there."
In that tweet, he tagged the far-right activist Ali Alexander, who organized the "Stop the Steal" movement and with whom Gosar rallied elsewhere in an effort to overturn the election.
Weeks before the riot, Alexander told followers in a since-deleted video on Periscope that he, Gosar, and along with two other members, "schemed up [the idea] of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting" on Jan. 6. to "change the minds of Republicans in that body hearing our loud roar from outside."
Responding to a complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee, Gosar said: "I have never instigated violence," adding, "I have never aided or abetted violence. I have not urged or supported violence."
Since the Capitol riot, Gosar has led the defense of those who stormed the Capitol, calling them "peaceful patriots" at a May 12 hearing. He has sought to paint Ashli Babbit, the rioter who was shot and killed by Capitol Police after attempting to breach an entrance near the House chamber as members and aides were fleeing, as a victim who was "executed." He added the unnamed officer was "lying in wait" for her.
He joined 20 House Republicans in voting against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the officers who defend the Capitol against the mob.
'Emboldened' Gosar goes on
Soon after the riot, three of the congressman's siblings, including Dave and Jennifer Gosar, contacted Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., asking him to help expel their brother from Congress over his role in the happenings. Such a step is exceedingly rare; Congress has only expelled 20 members in its history.
Earlier this year, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called on the House Ethics Committee to probe Gosar's and two colleagues' involvement in planning Jan. 6 rallies. This month, the committee said in a letter it was declining to investigate.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., in May asked colleagues to co-sign a resolution calling for the censure of Gosar and others. Months prior, Grijalva asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to suspend Gosar's committee assignments.
None of those efforts have gained steam.
Grijalva said Democrats won't be pursuing the kind of reprimand with Gosar as they did when stripping Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., of committee assignments this year, adding such a move would only serve to create more notoriety for the Arizona Republican.
"Right now, I think Mr. Gosar feels emboldened," Grijalva said. "Nothing has happened. There has been no reaction on the part of his colleagues in Congress, and, basically, he feels no public reaction. So he proceeds along, every time increasing the rhetoric in a bad way. In a very bad way."
Dave Gosar thinks the only reason his brother has yet to face consequences is because of a lack of political will.
"They're trying to bury it just like they bury everything in the past," he said. "And I want to tell you if they think that's going to fly this time, they're sorely mistaken. ... I think he should be removed from Congress, and they have the power to do it, no matter what they tell you."
Jennifer Gosar said she is upset that only Greene has faced formal rebuke after the riot, arguing the freshman member had little to do with the lead-up the rally. Democrats cited other nonriot comments Greene made when she was removed from committees.
"To say that somehow Marjorie Taylor Greene is like the ringleader makes me want to barf," Jennifer Gosar said. "It's absolutely not true, and it's more because they don't want to take a stronger stance."
Republican lawmakers are in no rush to criticize fellow members like Gosar and Greene, but increasingly, they are also putting distance between such members and themselves.
"The Freedom Caucus has become the Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar caucus, which has diminished its credibility substantially in the House," one conservative House member, who declined to be named, said, referring to the group that was once comprised of tea party-aligned lawmakers. "Many members who used to be associated won’t go near Freedom Caucus now."
For Gosar's siblings, they say the rift has caused tension in their family but remaining silent was not an option.
"I would not have come out publicly if it were not absolutely necessary," Jennifer Gosar said. "But just because he's my brother doesn't mean he gets a pass."