One of the most controversial new member of Congress was the focus of a brutal new exposé in New York magazine.
"Madison Cawthorn has a vision of a January 6 that did not happen. One in which he does the noble thing for career and country. He uses his MAGA celebrity for good. He transforms from sh*tposter to statesman. And he emerges from the U.S. Capitol as America's savior," Olivia Nuzzi reported.
Nuzzi noted Rep. Cawthorn (R-NC) pushed the conspiracy theory about election fraud that incited the fatal insurrection and even urged Trump supporters to "lightly threaten" members to Congress when pushing them to overturn the election results.
"After winning a competitive primary and the November election, he avidly promoted the president's false claims of voter fraud. In a December speech to Turning Point USA, the right-wing youth organization, he said, 'Call your congressman, and feel free — you can lightly threaten them and say, 'You know what? If you don't start supporting election integrity, I'm coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you, everybody's coming after you.' ' With digital charisma and total fealty to the Trump election lie, Cawthorn snagged a prime speaking spot at the president's January 6 'Save America' rally alongside lifers like Rudy Giuliani and Trump's own son," Nuzzi reported.
After the riot began, Cawthorn armed himself with a handgun and described sheltering in a colleague's office as he attempted to distance himself from the insurrectionist.
"It was a great bonding experience," he said. "But it literally felt like a scene from The Lord of the Rings. You kind of see the orcs — Helm's Deep, or taking over Minas Tirith, whatever — it just looks like the enemy is on something that they're not supposed to be on … And the worst part was they're all waving these American flags and these MAGA flags, and you want to say, 'You don't represent me at all. That's not my movement. You're not part of my party one bit if you're taking this kind of extreme action.' One can say, 'You can only push somebody so much, and they watched the Black Lives Matter people do this all summer,' blah blah blah — but at the end of the day, there's no excuse for it."
Cawthorn imagined what he wishes he would have done.
"I genuinely believe, had we realized what was going on and sent myself, or maybe Lauren Boebert (R-CO), some of these people who are just very recognizable to, kind of, the MAGA crowd; in the wheelchair, I probably would've been better, because it's very easily recognizable. I might've just gone to the front steps." He said, "I think we could've stopped them."
Cawthorn's role in the big lie about election fraud is part of a long series of controversies for the rookie lawmaker.
"He visited the U.S.-Mexico border and appealed to QAnon with a claim that children were being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery across the Rio Grande; he was accused of sexual misconduct (Cawthorn maintains he did nothing wrong) and of spreading a lie that, if not for his car crash, he would have attended the Naval Academy (he was rejected prior to the accident). His campaign launched a racist attack against a member of the press; he posted a photo at Hitler's vacation home with a caption about how seeing where 'the Führer' (umlaut and everything) went to decompress had been on his 'bucket list.' And on and on," Nuzzi noted.
After it all, Cawthorn is claiming his speech to the insurrectionists seeking to overturn the election may have saved lives.
"Maybe my remarks that day led to a thousand less people, or ten less people, who didn't storm the Capitol," Cawthorn said. "Maybe that number would've been enough to breach the House floor, and congressmen could have died or more police officers could have died. I think my comments there led to less violence."
Read the full report.