Mar 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Cawthorn tells McCarthy orgy, cocaine remarks were exaggerated

Cawthorn
Photo: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.). Photo:  Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) admitted suggestions that his colleagues have done cocaine and invited him to orgies were "exaggerated" in a tense meeting with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House GOP leader told Axios.

Driving the news: McCarthy says he may take further action to condemn Cawthorn over his "unacceptable" remarks, which set off a firestorm within the House Republican conference.

What he's saying: "There's a lot of different things that can happen," McCarthy told Axios and other reporters.

  • "I just told him he's lost my trust, he's gonna have to earn it back, and I laid out everything I find is unbecoming. And, you can't just say, 'You can't do this again.' I mean, he's, he's got a lot of members very upset."

McCarthy said Cawthorn conceded some of his remarks were untrue and "exaggerated."

  • "In the interview, he claims he watched people do cocaine. Then when he comes in he tells me, he says he thinks he saw maybe a staffer in a parking garage from 100 yards away," McCarthy said.
  • "It's just frustrating. There's no evidence behind his statements. And when I sit down with him ... I told him you can't make statements like that, as a member of Congress, that affects everybody else and the country as a whole."
  • A spokesman for Cawthorn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The backdrop: Cawthorn, 26, said he had experienced “sexual perversion” while in Washington during an interview with John Lovell for the "Warrior Poet Society" podcast.

  • Lovell had asked Cawthorn whether "House of Cards" was a “fictitious show” or if it was “closer to like a documentary."
  • Cawthorn then suggested his fellow lawmakers have invited him to an orgy and done cocaine in front of him.

Several House GOP members were furious upon learning about the interview, and many dared Cawthorn to "name names" if he is going to make such damaging allegations.

  • "Madison’s stuff irritates me because it’s not true," Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios' Andrew Solender. "He’ll have to either name names or retract it."

What's next: McCarthy said he plans to wait and see what steps Cawthorn takes to improve before taking further, and more official, action against him.

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