Former President Donald Trump called on Republicans to give North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn a "second chance" despite reports he has become "increasingly annoyed" with him in light of his multitude of recent scandals.
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 remarks came after Cawthorn addressed a video clip that shows him naked in bed and making thrusting motions on top of another man.
Cawthorn claimed he "was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny,” adding he and his friend "were acting foolish, and joking."
The video, which was released by American Muckrakers, a political action committee and opposition group dedicated to removing Cawthorn from Congress, was provided by “a former Cawthorn supporter and big donor who asked to remain anonymous.”
It seemed the possibility of getting out ahead of the controversy motivated Cawthorn's decision to comment on the video itself, which he said had been released as part of an orchestrated smear campaign in an effort to "blackmail him."
The video's release, coming on the heels of another controversy–leaked photos showing Cawthorn wearing women's lingerie in public and another video showing a Cawthorn male staffer/cousin putting his hand in Cawthorn's crotch and Venmo payments sent to the same staffer annotated as for sexual favors–prompted many to speculate about Cawthorn's sexuality.
Cawthorn later defended the moment as "stupid locker room talk," a callback to the same defense then-candidate Trump used to describe his words in a now-infamous Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about grabbing women without their consent.
But Trump's defense of Cawthorn is likely 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.
One source said that Trump "is completely weirded out by the allegations" while another said that Trump has been "disappointed with Madison, and thinks he has problems handling his [public relations]."
And as many have made clear, they're not about to give Cawthorn that "second chance" and they criticized Trump for suggesting that others should.
How Cawthorn will perform come the midterms remains to be seen but his relationships with prominent Republicans have been heavily strained.
Cawthorn recently annoyed Republican leadership after he claimed he'd been invited to cocaine-fueled orgies with Washington's elite.
He has refused to answer questions about his claims, only saying he was invited to orgies and witnessed heavy cocaine use among politicians he's claimed to admire. He has accused Democrats of using his own words against him in an effort to fracture the Republican Party.
Cawthorn said his claims, which he first made during an interview with the Warrior Poet Society, a self-proclaimed group of Republican "freedom fighters," were designed to call out corruption and "have been used by the left and the media to disparage my Republican colleagues and falsely insinuate their involvement in illicit activities."
His remarks raised concerns within the Republican Party and he was called for a 30-minute meeting with Republican leadership, speaking to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana).
Cawthorn has not responded to questions about what happened during the meeting.