Outgoing North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn—who lost his GOP primary bid to retain his seat last month—claimed former Republican Donald Trump created a “dangerous setting” outside the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, the day a mob of lead by Trump's White nationalist supporters attacked the seat of government at his behest on the false premise the 2020 general election had been stolen.
Cawthorn, when asked during an interview on The Carlos Watson Show if he had any regrets about speaking at the "Stop the Steal" rally ahead of the attack, said he would have directed the crowd to protest peacefully.
That's an about-face from comments he made on the same program in February 2021—shortly after the attack—when he said, "I don’t regret it, actually, Carlos," in response to host Carlos Watson's questions about his headspace before, during and after the attack that left at least five people dead and resulted in over 100 injuries to law enforcement and millions of dollars in damages.
You can hear Cawthorn's latest remarks below.
“Well, you know, one, I mean, you know, President Donald Trump said, ‘I want you to peaceably and patriotically protest,’—that’s good on his part."
"But if I could go back, I probably and I had an opportunity to speak with the President, which I did not, I would have asked that he did not send or tell the crowd to go down to the Capitol.”
"You know, I think that that just put everything in a dangerous setting.”
Cawthorn's statements are remarkable because he repeatedly backed Trump's narrative about that day.
The extent of Cawthorn's alleged involvement in the January 6 insurrection appeared to become clearer following a bombshell report from Rolling Stone.
On Sunday, October 24, Rolling Stone published an article stating several supporters of former President Trump who helped plan the insurrection had multiple planning sessions with senior White House staffers and Republican members of Congress.
Sources who spoke to the magazine said they met with several high-profile Trump acolytes, including Representatives Paul Gosar (Arizona), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia), Lauren Boebert (Colorado) and Cawthorn himself.
Organizers claim Gosar promised "blanket pardons" to anyone who participated in the attack, adding they "would talk to Boebert's team, Cawthorn's team, Gosar's team like back to back to back to back."
His about-face was not well-received by his critics, who noted the damage he'd already done by committing to Trump's lies for so long
As recently as last month, Trump had called on Republicans to give the scandal-ridden Cawthorn a "second chance" despite reports that Trump had become "increasingly annoyed" with him in light of a multitude of unsavory headlines, which at that point included a video clip that shows Cawthorn naked in bed and making thrusting motions on top of another man.
Trump issued his defense of Cawthorn via Truth Social, his personal social media platform. He said Cawthorn had been through "a life changing event the likes of which, fortunately, few people will ever have to endure"—a reference to the car accident that left Cawthorn partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair.
Trump added that Cawthorn "did a great job" when he was first elected and only recently "made some foolish mistakes."
Trump's defense was largely perceived as a tactical one to get Republicans through this year's midterm elections, as evidenced by a Rolling Stonereport that Trump is "not impressed" with Cawthorn's recent scandals, according to sources who spoke to the magazine on condition of anonymity.