GOP leader McCarthy says Madison Cawthorn ‘lost my trust’ over ‘orgies’ and ‘cocaine’ claims

Republican leader tears into freshman congressman in scathing statement

John Bowden
Wednesday 30 March 2022 21:17
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Madison Cawthorn says 'sexual perversion' rife in DC

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not hold anything back as he publicly excoriated one of his own fellow Republicans for comments the freshman congressman made alleging that drug use and sexual deviancy were rife on Capitol Hill.

Mr McCarthy and minority whip Steve Scalise met with Mr Cawthorn briefly on Wednesday, and a flushed Mr Cawthorn refused to answer questions from reporters as he emerged with an aide in the minutes after the conversation.

The House Republican leader was less reserved in his own comments about the situation, and spoke to reporters afterwards.

“He's lost my trust is gonna have to earn it back. And I laid out everything that I find is unbecoming,” Mr McCarthy told reporters, according to Axios, before noting that the 26-year-old Republican from North Carolina had changed his story when confronted by the two members of leadership.

“This is unacceptable. There's no evidence to this. He changes what he [says] and that's not becoming of a Congressman...He did not tell the truth,” said Mr McCarthy.

Mr Cawthorn had alleged in a conversation with supporters caught on a now widely circulated video that “sexual perversion” is rampant in Congress and that he had witnessed drug use by lawmakers or political leaders who he insinuated were leading anti-drug addiction campaigns in the United States.

“Some of the people leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country, and then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine right in front of you. And it's like, this is wild,” stated the lawmaker.

In the lengthy comments, he also claimed that members he had “looked up to” his entire life had invited him to an “orgy” at a DC residence.

The comments had reportedly drawn immediate criticism from more senior members of the Republican House caucus, and not just from those aligned with leadership. Some members, including ones aligned with the far-right Freedom Caucus, told reporters that the congressman should be forced to name names if he is going to continue making such explosive claims about anonymous members.

On Wednesday, Mr McCarthy took the rare step of openly ridiculing the specific claims Mr Cawthorn had made, including his explanation for the cocaine use assertion.

After questioning, the GOP leader said that Mr Cawthorn now admits that “he thinks he saw maybe a staffer in a parking garage maybe 100 yards away,” adding that the congressman told him “he doesn’t know what cocaine is”.

At least one Republican has openly suggested that Mr Cawthorn should lose his seat over his persistent causing of headaches for the greater GOP caucus.

“Frankly, if western North Carolina is not going to fix the problem, then leadership will have to,” Rep Steve Womack told Politico.

But Mr Cawthorn could face judgment a lot sooner than the 2022 midterms in November for his actions. Mr McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday that the congressman “very well could be” the target of punitive action for his remarks and conduct.

Among the other issues Mr McCarthy reportedly raised with Mr Cawthorn on Wednesday was his referral to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelesnky, as a “thug” amid the brutal Russian invasion of Mr Zelesnky’s country.

Mr Cawthorn is the youngest-serving member of Congress and has a history of embracing conspiracy theories and making statements with little or no basis in reality. He is a an ally of other far-right members like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert who are on the outs with GOP leadership for similar reasons.

He has been directly accused of spreading racist views as well by New Jersey Sen Cory Booker, who highlighted a website created by the congressman’s staff that among other claims accused Mr Booker of trying to “ruin white males running for office”.

“It just really personally saddens me that somebody who is so clearly racist is a nominee of a major party, and I think it’s a disrespect of the entire community,” Mr Booker told HuffPost in 202, before Mr Cawthorn was elected to Congress.

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