Freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn has made political hay out of being controversial and combative from the moment he announced his candidacy.
So it came as no surprise that in a series of tweets on and before January 6, Cawthorn was among the many voices who egged on the rioters in the Capitol, who called for Mike Pence to be hanged from a gallows they erected outside and whose insurrection resulted in five deaths.
But that was then and this is now, as the saying goes, and Cawthorn quickly changed his tune once the riots turned bloody, taking to Twitter to denounce the very violence he cheered on.
As Americans we can not tolerate violence. Peacefully protest ONLY. We must let Congress work and uphold law and o… https://t.co/ZakULc2DPP— Madison Cawthorn (@Madison Cawthorn)1609965625.0
The tweet called on the rioters, many of whom were seen attacking police officers in live news footage, to "peacefully protest ONLY" and to "back the blue."
It was followed by another tweet the next day which accused the rioters of "thuggery" and asserted that what "unites [Americans] is greater than what divides us.
Last night, I spoke out in defense of our Constitution and a fair electoral process. I also unequivocally denounced… https://t.co/4dyrZBJ5ig— Madison Cawthorn (@Madison Cawthorn)1610061897.0
Cawthorn also tweeted about the murder of a police officer that occurred during the riots, calling the incident a "perversion of patriotism."
But for all their eloquence, the sentiments bore no resemblance to Cawthorn's position before the riots began.
In the lead-up to the events of January 6, Cawthorn devoted his Twitter presence to regurgitating the GOP lies about Joe Biden stealing the presidential election that motivated the insurrection, retweeting Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert's boasts about carrying her loaded gun onto the House floor, and imploring Trump supporters to "fight" on January 6.
January 6th is fast approaching, the future of this Republic hinges on the actions of a solitary few. Get ready,… https://t.co/GD5iYJspOD— Madison Cawthorn (@Madison Cawthorn)1609801032.0
Cawthorn posted two other tweets the morning of January 6 that many have seen as helping to incite the riot that occurred.
One referenced a pre-Capitol gathering many rioters attended, telling the Trump supporters to "Be there. It's on." Another simply said "Go time" with an American flag emoji.
Cawthorn's pivot to anti-violence and calls for unity seem particularly suspicious when taken in context with his behavior during his Congressional run. Frequently accused of being a white nationalist, Cawthorn trafficked in fascist, racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric throughout his campaign and following his victory.
On his campaign website, he slammed his electoral opponent for working for "non-white males" like Senator Cory Booker, whom Cawthorn said "aims to ruin white males." Shortly after his win, he spoke about his attempts to convert Jews to Christianity.
But perhaps no controversy has stuck to Cawthorn quite so strongly as his Instagram posts highlighting a trip to Adolph Hitler's vacation home, which Cawthorn called an item on his "bucket list" while referring to Hitler with the Nazi honorific "Führer."
As for calls for unity, Cawthorn used his first tweet after winning his election to mock liberals.
And on Twitter, most were not buying his peace-loving tone.
@CawthornforNC @JoshStein_ I formerly request you investigate @CawthornforNC ‘s role in fomenting the sedition th… https://t.co/AzPOWHrqU1— Lachesis (@Lachesis)1610068873.0
@CawthornforNC This you bro? https://t.co/vDmIHbUcGt— ĸɇmP (@ĸɇmP)1610068456.0
@CawthornforNC A Capitol Hill Police officer involved in quelling the violent insurrection you helped to incite die… https://t.co/UScAyScKUD— Moe Davis (@Moe Davis)1610065155.0
@CawthornforNC Still not taking any ownership of your part in inciting this action, I see. You can't just platitud… https://t.co/sjsw05RImy— Grue Know Who (@Grue Know Who)1610062016.0
@CawthornforNC Excellent. I presume you will be pleading guilty for your role in inciting a riot under 18 U.S. Code… https://t.co/g7YzZ8hveD— Libby James (@Libby James)1610124555.0
Whatever Cawthorn's motivation for his more conciliatory approach, he seems to have changed tacks once again: Cawthorn has since devoted his Twitter presence to decrying the deletion of Donald Trump's Twitter account as "oppression.