GOP congressman faces backlash for telling supporters to 'lightly threaten' Congress


Ahead of the violent and deadly riot at the Capitol, Cawthorn advised right-wing activists to 'fight.'

Yet another Republican lawmaker is under fire for using violent rhetoric ahead of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters ransacked the building seeking to overturn the results of a free and fair election — a failed effort that left five people dead in its wake.

Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) made numerous comments that could be seen as inciting his followers to commit violence. And now, Democrats are calling for his expulsion, and some of Cawthorn's conservative backers are reneging their support for his candidacy.

On Dec. 21, in a speech at a conference held by the right-wing group Turning Point USA, Cawthorn specifically told the crowd to threaten lawmakers.

"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," Cawthorn said, according to the Charlotte Observer.

At the rally that preceded the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Cawthorn told the crowd, "Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard. But my friends, when I look out into this crowd, I can confidently say, this crowd has the voice of lions. There is a new Republican Party on the rise that will represent this country, that will go and fight in Washington, D.C."

And that same day, as the violent mob of Trump supporters was breaking into the Capitol, Cawthorn tweeted, "I'm fighting a battle for our Constitution on the house floor with other patriots. The battle is on the house floor, not in the streets of D.C."

That violent language led Democratic leaders from Cawthorn's House district to call for his expulsion from Congress.

"Mr. Cawthorn needs to be held accountable for his seditious behavior and for the consequences resulting from said behavior," the group wrote in a letter, sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "The voters of North Carolina deserve the truth from our elected officials. We will not tolerate misinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies from our Representatives."

Even conservatives from the district who backed Cawthorn's candidacy and campaigned for him are renouncing him.

Eddie Harwood, a conservative who said he volunteered on Cawthorn's campaign, wrote in a Facebook post that he no longer backs Cawthorn because of Cawthorn's "immaturity and willingness to pander to the worst instincts of the right-wing fringe."

"Make no mistake: There is blood on his hands," Harwood wrote. "He played a role in encouraging the violence and attack on our democracy yesterday, going to get his picture taken and trying to get on the right-wing news by whipping up the crowd that attacked our democracy and our constitutional process. It was disgusting."

Former sheriff George Erwin, who the Charlotte Observer reported helped organize law enforcement groups to endorse Cawthorn's campaign, is also now denouncing Cawthorn and regrets his work to help his campaign.

"Words mean things," Erwin told the Charlotte Observer. "You can inflame a group and you can calm a group by the words you used. To me, he inflamed."

Ultimately, Democratic members of Congress are weighing an effort to expel GOP lawmakers for helping incite the violence on Jan. 6.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who introduced the bill seeking the expulsion of Republican members like Cawthorn, said, "We can't have unity without accountability."

Trump himself is also likely to be impeached for a second time for his role in inciting the insurrection.

Meanwhile, reports on the Capitol attack say suggest it's a miracle that more people were not killed in the Trump-led attempt to overturn the 2020 elections.

Democratic lawmakers were told in a Monday night briefing from Capitol Police that there were specific plots to block Democratic lawmakers by any means necessary from going into the Capitol so that Republicans could seize control of the effort to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win, HuffPost reported.

And the attacks may not be over.

The FBI is warning that armed right-wing extremists are planning demonstrations in all 50 states, the New York Times reported.

Capitol Police informed Democratic lawmakers in that call that, "The purchase of a bulletproof vest is a reimbursable expense," NBC News' Kasie Hunt and Alex Moe reported.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.