Missouri Senator Josh Hawley wrote a column at the age of 15 defending members of anti-government militias following the Oklahoma City bombing when 169 people were killed in an attack on a government building.
Mr Hawley argued against calling militia members domestic terrorists in the column published in his hometown paper The Lexington News. The men who committed the attack on the building, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, had connections to the Michigan Militia, an anti-government group.
“Many of the people populating these movements are not radical, right-wing, pro-assault weapons freaks as they were originally stereotyped,” Mr Hawley wrote about militias in the column, The Kansas City Star reported.
“Dismissed by the media and treated with disdain by their elected leaders, these citizens come together and form groups that often draw more media fire as anti-government hate gatherings,” mr Hawley wrote.
“Feeling alienated from their government and the rest of society, they often become disenchanted and slip into talks of ‘conspiracy theories’ about how the federal government is out to get them,” he added.
Mr Hawley also wrote at the time that the depiction of former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman as a racist was unfair after Mr Fuhrman’s use of slurs was made public during the trial of OJ Simpson.
Mr Hawley wrote: “In this politically correct society, derogatory labels such as ‘racist’ are widely misused, and our ability to have open debate is eroding.”
Mr Hawley’s previous mentors have disavowed him, surprised over his recent conduct which includes arguing against certifying the results of the election even after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol and criticising the left and big tech companies for “muzzling” America. Donors like Hallmark cards have asked Mr Hawley to return donations.
Colleagues are calling for his resignation or expulsion from the senate. And some who helped him along the way are asking themselves if they missed something that they should have seen earlier on.
Mr Hawley’s Stanford academic adviser told The Kansas City Star that he felt “a little bamboozled” after learning about the past of his former mentee and now Senator.
On Monday, Mr Hawley sent in a “counter-complaint” against seven Senate Democrats who want Mr Hawley and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz to be investigated “to fully understand their role” in the violent overthrow of the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6. Mr Hawley said the Democrats had committed “historic partisan abuse of the Senate ethics process”.
Mr Hawley is asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the seven Democrats and take appropriate action. Mr Hawley and Mr Cruz led the objections in the Senate to the certification of the election results that confirmed President Joe Biden’s win.