Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s spokesman denies that Cawthorn was threatening a repeat of January 6 when he said of the January insurrectionists that he was trying to “bust them out.” And when he said, “We are actively working on that one,” in response to the question, “When are you gonna call us to Washington again?” The big question now is whether Cawthorn’s comments will lure House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy out of his hiding hole to issue a weak condemnation, or if McCarthy will maintain his customary silence in the face of outrages from his members.
Cawthorn, according to his spokesman, was “referring to actively working on getting answers about political prisoners following January 6,” not “actively working on any ‘protest.’” Naturally, this denial came with a claim that Cawthorn was being taken out of context. But literally, an attendee at the Republican event where Cawthorn was taking questions asked, “When are you gonna call us to Washington again?” and Cawthorn kinda sorta chuckled and faltered a little and then said, “We are actively working on that one. We have a few plans in motion I can’t make public right now.” That’s it. That’s the context.
Cawthorn also repeatedly described the people arrested for breaking down windows and doors at the U.S. Capitol, breaking into and stealing from the offices of key congressional leaders, and viciously assaulting the police officers who tried to defend the Capitol as “political prisoners” and “political hostages.”
“There are some criminal activities going on” in the federal government, Cawthorn claimed, because “when we are seeking answers, they are giving us the biggest runaround you possibly could imagine.” As a result, ”The big problem is we don’t actually know who all the political prisoners are, and so if we were actually to go and try to bust them out—and let me tell you, the reason why they have taken these political prisoners is they’re trying to make an example because they don’t want to see the mass protest going on in Washington,” Cawthorn said.
Well, if the “mass protest” involves a violent mob breaking into the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transition of power because they can’t admit their guy lost, then, no, the government does not want to see that going on.
“The things that we are wanting to fight for, it doesn’t matter if our votes don’t count,” Cawthorn also said. “Because, you know, if our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place—and it’s bloodshed.” The lies Cawthorn is spreading here about the 2020 election having been stolen have already led to bloodshed, and he’s trying to make it happen again.
But Cawthorn’s gonna Cawthorn. He’s a liar and a sexual predator and anti-immigrant racist who took an early lead among first-term House members for most missed votes. The interesting question, as always, is what Republican leaders are going to do about him—or Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Lauren Boebert, or Paul Gosar, or Andy Biggs. And the answer is usually nothing. Kevin McCarthy is a pathetically weak “leader” who is following the far-far-far-right of his conference, the people who might as well go ahead and call themselves the troll caucus, ever further to the fringe. Because Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker of the House, and he thinks he needs the die-hard Trump loyalists and the Q-curious and the not-so-subtly-racist and the violent-insurrectionist Republican base to get there.
That’s why it took serious pressure to get McCarthy to condemn Greene for her comparison of public health measures to Nazi atrocities and why he’s stayed silent on so many other things that once would have come only from the fringiest of the fringe Republicans. Donald Trump took the Republican Party’s core of ruthless pursuit of power above all else, the thinly veiled racism at the heart of so many Republican messages and policies, and the base’s raging sense of entitlement, and lifted them all to the surface of what the Republican Party is all about. Cawthorn, Greene, and a growing number of others are making sure it stays that way—and, because it was already there at the core, so-called leaders like McCarthy are along for the ride. Maybe Cawthorn’s suggestion that he’s getting ready to call for another January 6 will force McCarthy’s hand if the media pays enough attention. But either way, McCarthy’s capitulation to Cawthorn and his crew will continue.