Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was the focus of a hard-hitting investigation published by The Washington Post on Saturday.
"Madison Cawthorn was a 21-year-old freshman at a conservative Christian college when he spoke at chapel, testifying about his relationship with God. He talked emotionally about the day a car accident left him partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair," The Post noted. "Cawthorn said a close friend had crashed the car in which he was a passenger and fled the scene, leaving him to die "in a fiery tomb." Cawthorn was 'declared dead,' he said in the 2017 speech at Patrick Henry College. He said he told doctors that he expected to recover and that he would 'be at the Naval Academy by Christmas.'"
"Key parts of Cawthorn's talk, however, were not true. The friend, Bradley Ledford, who has not previously spoken publicly about the chapel speech, said in an interview that Cawthorn's account was false and that he pulled Cawthorn from the wreckage. An accident report obtained by The Washington Post said Cawthorn was "incapacitated," not that he was declared dead. Cawthorn himself said in a lawsuit deposition, first reported by the news outlet AVL Watchdog, that he had been rejected by the Naval Academy before the crash," the newspaper noted. "Shortly after the speech, Cawthorn dropped out of the college after a single semester of mostly D's, he said in the deposition, which was taken as part of a court case regarding insurance. Later, more than 150 former students signed a letter accusing him of being a sexual predator, which Cawthorn has denied."
The report came one day after BuzzFeed News published an exposé on Cawthorn being accused of sexually harassing former classmates.
The Post noted how Cawthorn is wielding his new power in Congress.
"He promptly used his newfound fame to push baseless allegations about voting fraud on Twitter in a video viewed 4 million times, which President Donald Trump retweeted, saying, 'Thank you Madison!' Then Cawthorn spoke at the Jan. 6 rally where a mob was incited to storm the U.S. Capitol, again alleging fraud and extolling the crowd's courage in comparison with the 'cowards' in Congress," the newspaper explained. "He returned to the Capitol, where he falsely claimed that insurrectionists had been 'paid by the Democratic machine.'"
Cawthorn's approach is very Trumpian.
"The story of Cawthorn's rise is, by any measure, an extraordinary accomplishment at a young age by a man who suffered a horrific injury. But an examination by The Post of how he ascended so quickly shows how even one of the most neophyte elected Republicans is adopting the Trump playbook, making false statements about his background, issuing baseless allegations about voter fraud and demonizing his political opponents," the newspaper noted.
Read the full report.