McCarthy silent after Cawthorn warns of 'bloodshed' over 'rigged' elections

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The House minority leader often lets bad behavior by his own caucus members slide.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has not issued a statement nearly 24 hours after video was posted of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) speaking of a "rigged" 2020 election and warning that there may be "bloodshed" if "election security" measures are not adopted.

In video streamed on Facebook by the Macon County Republican Party of North Carolina, Cawthorn condemned the treatment of people held in jail awaiting trial on charges connected with the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and said the ability to "bust them out" was hampered by not knowing where exactly the "political prisoners" are.

"Cawthorn is very plainly inciting violence and putting people's lives at risk, including members of law enforcement," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted in response on Tuesday. "This kind of rhetoric about the January 6 attack is like pouring out gasoline and then playing with matches. The extremists are listening."

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) shared Beyer's sentiments, tweeting, "Law and order is necessary for our society. When elected officials ignore facts and openly advocate for committing crimes, it sows chaos and puts Americans and our great country at risk. Real patriots condemn such rhetoric and realize how dangerous this message is for all of us."

And Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) called for retweets to urge McCarthy to "condemn Rep. Cawthorn for threatening political violence."

McCarthy has not said anything.

A spokesperson for McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment on why McCarthy hasn't spoken, whether he believes Cawthorn's comments are appropriate, and whether he will punish Cawthorn for the remarks.

However, the House minority leader has let other bad behavior from his caucus go without reprimand.

He never issued a statement after Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) expressed sympathy with "citizenry anger over directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty" in a tweet about a bomb threat at the Capitol on Aug. 19.

And while he criticized Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for pushing antisemitic conspiracy theories and other violent rhetoric, he voted against removing Greene from her committees over her behavior.

McCarthy has, however, demanded congressional Democrats punish their own members when he doesn't like what they say.

He unsuccessfully sought to censure Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), after Waters told protesters prior to the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on charges of murdering George Floyd to "get more confrontational" if Chauvin were not found guilty.

McCarthy also considered supporting a failed effort to censure Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Ayanna Pressley (MA) for criticizing Israel.

Democrats in Congress have criticized McCarthy for his failure to respond to the actions of his caucus members and for his threats against those he disagrees with.

"When you see someone like the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy of the Republican Party, respond to white supremacists' vitriol coming from his own members, not with censure like they did with Rep. Steve King of Iowa, not with being stripped of committees, not with any consequence, you have to wonder who actually has that power," Ocasio-Cortez said during an interview in January.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a scathing statement on July 7 after McCarthy threatened to punish GOP lawmakers who accepted an invitation from her to serve on the House select committee to probe the Jan. 6 insurrection.

"In Kevin McCarthy's House Republican Conference, defending the truth is the worst crime a Member can commit," Pelosi said in the statement. "McCarthy looks the other way and welcomes Members who spread dangerous conspiracy theories and consort with insurrectionsfar right extremists and white supremacists, but he punishes and threatens those in his Conference who dare to stand up for our democracy."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.