Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) on Sunday made comments promoting conspiracy theories about vaccines and the 2020 election, defending Capitol rioters and appearing to endorse more Jan. 6-style rallies, even warning of “bloodshed” over Republicans’ baseless election fraud claims.
In remarks to a local GOP gathering in Macon County, N.C., Cawthorn echoed former President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims, baselessly stating Trump and Dan Forest, the losing GOP candidate for North Carolina governor in 2020, won their respective elections.
Cawthorn also signaled plans to challenge potential losses in the upcoming midterm elections, promising supporters they will have a “secure election,” and adding, “If you do not, you will have a lawsuit and we will overturn it.”
Cawthorn referred to defendants in Capitol riot cases as “political hostages” and vowed to “bust them out” – and, asked by one supporter in the context of Jan. 6 when he plans to “call us to Washington again,” Cawthorn replied, “We are actively working on that one.”
After briefly brandishing a rifle, Cawthorn said if elections “continue to be stolen,” it will “lead to one place, and that’s bloodshed,” adding that he is “willing to defend liberty at all costs” and would dread taking “arms against a fellow American.”
Cawthorn also joined colleagues like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in expressing skepticism about coronavirus vaccines, calling the shots “experimental” despite the Food and Drug Administration granting full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week.
Cawthorn spokesperson Luke Ball told Forbes Cawthorn was “CLEARLY advocating for violence not to occur over election integrity questions,” and “fears others would erroneously choose that route,” adding that he thinks those issues should be “resolved peacefully and never through violence.”
Ball added that Cawthorn wants “due process” for Capitol riot defendants and wasn’t advocating “any form of illegal action.”
“This is exactly the kind of thing DHS, FBI & intel agencies warned ‘will almost certainly’ spur domestic extremists to try to engage in more violence,” tweeted CNN national security reporter Zachary Cohen, who noted Cawthorn is a likely target in a telecom records request issued Monday by a House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
“The Second Amendment was not written so that we could go hunting… the Second Amendment was written so that we could fight against tyranny,” Cawthorn said while brandishing a rifle, echoing comments made by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) during a rally in May.
Cawthorn referenced his letter to Vice President Kamala Harris urging her to oust Biden, telling supporters, “I will remove Joe Biden from office, and then when Kamala Harris inevitably screws up we will take them down one at a time.” Cawthorn floated impeaching Harris if Biden were to resign – which is unlikely – and Republicans retake Congress.