Mar 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Cawthorn: Zelensky is "a thug" and Ukrainian gov't "pushing woke ideologies"

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) in Congress in November 2021.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) in Congress in November 2021.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "a thug" during a political event, according to a video obtained and published by WRAL-TV, a Raleigh-based NBC-affiliate.

Why it matters: Cawthorn comments depart from the praise that numerous congressional Republicans, Democrats, and lawmakers around the world, have given Zelensky for his leadership in the face of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

What they're saying: "Remember that Zelensky is a thug," Cawthorn, who is facing multiple challengers in his bid re-election, said in the video.

  • "Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies," he continued.

WRAL-TV said it is unclear where or when the video was captured, and Cawthorn's office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

  • Roughly an hour after WRAL published the video, Cawthorn said in a tweet that "the actions of Putin and Russia are disgusting" but accused Zelensky of pushing "misinformation on America."
  • Chuck Edwards, a state senator challenging Cawthorn in the Republican primary, referred to Cawthorn's comments in a tweet, saying the "thug is Vladimir Putin."
  • "We must unite as a nation to pray for President Zelensky and the brave people of Ukraine who are fighting for their lives and their freedom," he added. "Anything less is counter to everything we stand for in America."

The big picture: Congressional leaders on Wednesday said they reached a bipartisan deal to provide $13.6 billion to help Ukraine.

  • Half of that will go toward humanitarian and economic aid and the other toward military defense for Ukraine and U.S. allies and partners like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia.

Go deeper ... Zelensky: "I’m not hiding. And I'm not afraid of anyone."

Go deeper