Josh Hawley, the Republican from Missouri who faces calls for expulsion from the Senate over his support of Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn his election defeat, signed a friend’s eighth-grade yearbook “Josh Hawley, president 2024”.
The same yearbook named Hawley and the friend whose yearbook he signed among “future presidents”, the Kansas City Star reported.
Hawley is now among conservative senators jostling for the mantle of Trump and he is widely expected to run for the Republican nomination next time. He was the first to say he would support Trump’s baseless claims of electoral fraud by formally objecting to electoral college results.
Hawley, Ted Cruz and others went through with their objections on 6 January, even after a mob incited by the president stormed Congress, leaving five people dead. Hawley was also pictured raising a fist to the Trump supporters, his actions contributing to unease among donors and the momentary loss of a publishing deal.
But the same day, Sunday, he published a front page column in the New York Post. The senator railed against “cancel culture” and said it was “time to stand up against the muzzling of America”. The irony of his doing so on the front page of a Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid with a national profile was widely noted by observers on social media.
“For somebody who claims he’s been consistently muzzled, Hawley is somehow in my face in major media outlets all the time,” tweeted Elizabeth Spiers, a former editor of the New York Observer now a journalism professor at New York University. “I would think muzzling would mean I wouldn’t have to listen to this treason weasel anymore, but apparently not.”
The Star interviewed people who knew Hawley in his youth in Missouri, and reviewed writings for a high school paper in which he complained about media coverage of rightwing militias in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and Mark Fuhrman, a Los Angeles police detective whose use of racist slurs came to light in the OJ Simpson case.
The friend whose yearbook Hawley signed, Andrea Randall, told the Star she remembered him as “inclusive and social”. Randall, who is black, said that after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, as protests against institutional racism gripped the US, she emailed Hawley’s campaign, urging him to speak out.
“I know the young man who looked into the future,” she wrote. “America needs him desperately right now.”
She did not receive a reply.
Hawley regularly rails against elite culture on America’s coasts, despite living in Virginia and using his sister’s address to anchor him to Missouri. He also attended university at Stanford, in California, and Yale, in Connecticut.
David Kennedy, a Stanford history professor who wrote the foreword to a book on Theodore Roosevelt based on Hawley’s thesis, told the Star he was “more than a little bamboozled” and “certainly distressed” by the senator’s recent behavior.
Roosevelt, Kennedy said, “had a deep reverence for the sacred quality of our constitutionally prescribed institutions, and that mob of louts and clowns that stormed the Capitol building don’t seem to have any regard for that at all.”
One former classmate at Yale, meanwhile, told the Star that though in their student days the senator “came across as decent and kind and thoughtful”, he now “seems like a steaming mess of grievances”.