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Hogan calls GOP delegate who attacked Pence a ‘Q-Anon conspiracy theorist’

Maryland Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick), holds a copy of the Declaration of Independence as he addresses a "Reopen Maryland” rally against Gov. Larry Hogan’s coronavirus-related shutdowns. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday that a Republican state delegate who called Vice President Pence a traitor during last week’s breach of the U.S. Capitol was a “Q-Anon conspiracy theorist.”

Hogan told reporters the General Assembly may seek to censure or take other formal action against first-term Del. Daniel L. Cox (R-Frederick), who organized buses to the #stopthesteal rally and tweeted “Mike Pence is a traitor” as rioters stormed the Capitol.

The legislature could consider disciplinary action when it returns to Annapolis on Wednesday for its 90-day session. Such deliberations are confidential, however, and a spokeswoman for House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) declined to say whether an ethics investigation has been launched.

Cox did not return calls Tuesday.

An apologetic letter he wrote to the leaders of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, obtained by The Washington Post, seeks to explain what the delegate calls “my poor choice of words” in the tweet.

“At no time was I calling his action ‘treason’ or ‘sedition’ which are legal terms of art,” the email said. “I intended the verbiage to convey a betrayal of us his voters and a deep disappointment.”

Cox wrote that he drafted the tweet aboard a bus leaving the city and was unaware of the deadly violence unfolding at the Capitol. “I had no realization of the gravity of the situation at the moment and with my very small twitter following had no intent to stir up anything,” he wrote.

Hogan, a longtime critic of President Trump, has blamed the president for inciting the riot at the Capitol, in which a Capitol Police officer and a protestor were killed. Cox, on the other hand, is a devout defender of the president.

A mob insurrection stoked by false claims of election fraud and promises of violent restoration

Asked about Cox Tuesday, Hogan said he was embarrassed by fellow Republicans who fought against certifying the results of the presidential election. “He is not the kind of person I would vote to put in the legislature or support in any way — for anything,” Hogan said.

The governor said he did not know Cox personally, although photos posted on Cox’s Facebook page show Hogan posing with Cox in 2018, with a written endorsement attributed to the governor below.

Doug Mayer, who was Hogan’s deputy campaign manager in 2018, said he could find no evidence Tuesday that Hogan had endorsed Cox. He said it was possible Cox could have been part of a large batch of blanket candidate endorsements by the governor.

“If we did, it’s officially rescinded,” Mayer said. “The governor never knew he was endorsing him.”

Cox is an avowed opponent of mask requirements and pandemic-related shutdowns. In his private legal practice, he has represented clients suing government officials over those policies.

“I know he filed suit against us multiple times, [he’s] a Q-Anon conspiracy theorist who says crazy things every day,” Hogan said on Tuesday. “He called me a communist Chinese spy for China. He called the vice president a traitor. He was down there gathering people at the Capitol. I don’t even know what makes him think this way.”

After burying his son, Rep. Raskin (D-Md.) helps lead impeachment charge

In recent years, the House of Delegates has taken different formal actions when it wants to issue sanctions against members for their behavior. In 2019, lawmakers censured Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford), who is White, for using the n-word to describe a majority-Black legislative district. The same year, it also issued a formal reprimand of Del. Jay Jalisi (D-Baltimore County), who was accused of berating and emotionally abusing his legislative staff.

Senate Minority Whip Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) said he was not aware of any action that the House might be considering against Cox. He said that although he “strongly disagrees” with Cox’s tweet about Pence, he questioned whether formal action from the legislature was necessary.

Hough said he thinks Cox needs to apologize for using such a charged word to describe the vice president. “To me, Mike Pence acted like a patriot,” he said.

In the past week, Cox has recorded a video on his Facebook page in which he denounced the mob violence at the Capitol but continued to raise questions about election fraud and defended efforts to challenge the results. His Twitter account has been deleted.

The video said Cox’s group traveled to Washington from Frederick and were on the Mall but never made it to the Capitol “and of course did not participate in any violence.”

At the news conference, Hogan was also asked about his reaction to former secretary of state Colin L. Powell announcing that he can no longer call himself a Republican after members of his former party failed to rein in Trump.

The governor reaffirmed his commitment to the Republican Party, saying he “does not want to leave the party to those who took a hostile takeover of the party four years ago.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan blames Trump, GOP lawmakers for Capitol riot

The Jan. 6 insurrection

The report: The Jan. 6 committee released its final report, marking the culmination of an 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection. Read The Post’s analysis about the committee’s new findings and conclusions.

The final hearing: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public meeting where members referred four criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and others to the Justice Department. Here’s what the criminal referrals mean.

The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.

Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6. Here’s what we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6.