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Madison Cawthorn


Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) was elected in 2020 to succeed Mark Meadows—Trump’s last, short-lived chief of staff—in representing North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In May 2022, he lost his bid to hold on to the seat in the GOP primary—despite Trump’s endorsement.

Born in 1995, Cawthorn was 25 when he was sworn in to the House, making him the youngest member since 1965. He had worked in real estate and as a motivational speaker after a year-long introduction to politics when he worked as a congressional staffer for Meadows from 2015–16

Cawthorn has expressed racist and extreme right-wing positions, creating a poorly written attack ad, for example, that said a political opponent had “quit his academia job in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker who aims to ruin white males.” He also posted a photo on Instagram of a visit to Adolf Hitler’s compound, admirably referring to him as “he Fuhrer.” 

In office, the junior congressman intentionally focused more on marketing himself than on legislation, attracting attention for his outrageous behavior rather than his legislative record. In 2022, he made waves by calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy a “thug;” claiming that his Republican colleagues in Congress invited him to “orgies;” and spending taxpayer money for a staff retreat at a boutique resort outside of Asheville, North Carolina.

After the 2020 presidential election, Cawthorn showed his devotion to Trump by helping to spread the Big Lie and casting doubt on the legitimacy of Biden’s victory. He objected to certifying the Electoral College results and voted against both impeaching Trump for inciting the mob and establishing a special House committee to investigate the insurrection, among other measures.

January 6, 2021

  • Just hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Cawthorn joined 146 other congressional Republicans in refusing to certify Biden’s win of the 2020 presidential election.
  • Organizers of Stop the Steal rallies identified Cawthorn as among the congressional Republicans involved in planning the protests at the Capitol, according to reporting by Rolling Stone. One organizer is quoted as saying, “We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back.”
  • Hours before Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Cawthorn delivered a speech at the March to Save America rally, saying, “This crowd has some fight in it… the Democrats, with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice. Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard.”
  • Cawthorn voted against impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the mob that disrupted congressional certification of the presidential election.
  • In February 2021, Cawthorn told Carlos Watson of OZY’s The Carlos Watson Show that he did not regret anything he told the crowd right before they proceeded to break into the Capitol and assault police and other security personnel.
  • Cawthorn voted against establishing a House committee to investigate what led to the violent disruption of the congressional session underway that day.
  • As Cawthorn’s single term in Congress came to a close in January 2023, the lawyer he had retained to defend himself against charges of involvement in the insurrection announced that he was suing his client for more than $193,000 in unpaid legal fees.

The Big Lie

  • At a Dec. 1, 2020 event organized by the far-right, pro-Trump student group Turning Point USA, Cawthorn urged supporters to “lightly threaten” legislators who “don’t support election integrity.”
  • In the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, Cawthorn joined pro-Trump Republicans in Congress in accusing Democrats of stealing the election, referring to voter fraud allegations as “substantial,” and tweeting on Dec. 22, 2020: “I for one, will not be silent. I will fight. Will you?” 
  • In 2021, Cawthorn promoted voter ID laws by doubling down on claims that the Democratic Party benefits from voter fraud. 
  • In remarks at an August 2021 event in Macon County, North Carolina, Cawthorn referred to people facing charges related to the riot at the Capitol as “political hostages,” and in the same speech, brandished a shotgun while warning of “bloodshed” if elections “continue to be stolen.” 
  • On March 25, 2021, Cawthorn called the 2020 election a “travesty” in a tweet claiming that the Democratic Party relies on “immigrants and dead people” to win elections. 
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