Donald Trump helped make Rep. Madison Cawthorn a star of the MAGA movement, but now lawmakers risk falling out of favor.
Just a month after inviting Cawthorn to speak at a rally in North Carolina, Trump is increasingly angered and disappointed in his MAGA apprentice. The twice-indicted former president has described some of what he’s heard about Cawthorn’s recent troubles — and the related sexual images online — as “disgusting,” according to two sources who overheard Trump discussing the matter in recent weeks .
For the past three weeks, someone (or a group) has been sharing personal videos of Cawthorn engaging in sexually suggestive antics, with the apparent aim of asking North Carolina voters questions about his sexuality. Cawthorn has pushed back, dismissing the videos as years of attempts at humor and saying their release was part of a conspiracy by “the left”.
In any case, Trump is not impressed. “Trump isn’t about to draw his endorsement, but the [former] President says he wants to sit back and see what happens,” recalls one of the sources. “But he was disappointed in Madison and thinks he’s having trouble dealing with his [public relations]“, especially with the videos and photos that have surfaced.
The other source said Trump has recently expressed confusion and disgusted confusion at what he had been told about the spate of leaks and footage, and at one point in recent days asked if one of the allegations was that Cawthorn “fucks his cousin”? (That’s not one of the allegations. Instead, Cawthorn’s cousin, who is also on his staff, appears in some of the videos that talk about sex.)
Former “President Trump is completely confused by the allegations,” a third source, a Trump ally, bluntly shared Rolling Stone.
“President Trump is my friend and the leader of our party. I don’t trust anonymous sources and unnamed allegations,” says Cawthorn Rolling Stone in an opinion. “The fake news attacks MAGA warriors every day. Your lies will not stop me from fighting for an America First agenda in Congress.”
A Trump spokesman did not comment on this story.
Cawthorn caused controversy several times before the recent leaks. Speaking at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on the day of the riot, he urged voters to “lightly threaten” officials who refused to help overthrow the election by appearing at a Turning Points USA conference. He has also called besieged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “a thug,” threatened “bloodshed” in future elections, and posed for some unnervingly enthusiastic selfies at Adolf Hitler’s former mountain retreat.
But his gaffes never stopped his rise as a star in the MAGA world until the attacks on him were aimed at his sexuality.
The source, who heard Trump’s lewd question about Cawthorn’s cousin, noted that the ex-president stressed that while Cawthorn “needs to pull himself together,” as the source paraphrased, he had the “good” opinions and said what Trump wanted, for example about the 2020 presidential election. (Trump has required his allies to spread his anti-democratic lies about this election being “stolen,” and has largely made it a litmus test of who he supports in his party and who he supports politically trying to destroy.)
While Cawthorn’s support is secure for now, his political destiny now rests in hands that have been notoriously fickle during the Republican primary and the run-up to the 2022 midterm election. (Throughout the primaries so far, Trump’s decision-making has been repeatedly guided by whether or not he thinks a conservative is “fucking gross,” “fucking gross,” or “fucking weird,” for example.)
Trump’s recent lack of outside, vocal support has left Cawthorn vulnerable to attack from his many mainstream Republican enemies amid a seemingly endless string of scandals, including insider trading allegations, multiple firearm injuries and leaks of sexually charged videos. And he finds himself confronted with defectors even among MAGA believers.
“What I find interesting is that nobody really comes out and defends him nationally. The Marjorie Taylor Greenes, the Matt Gaetzes, the Lauren Boeberts — those people aren’t coming out to defend him,” said George Erwin, a former Cawthorn district executive who regrets his support for the US congressman Rolling Stone on Friday.
Cawthorn’s extreme online friends in Congress — House Republicans like the aforementioned Greene, Gaetz and Boebert — have not campaigned for his defense since the videos and photos were leaked in late April. A review of Congressional tweets by Rolling Stone So far, only Rep. Paul Gosar has shown that gave praise for the embattled North Carolina Republican while the House and Senate GOPs have remained silent.
In recent years, Cawthorn had also made his share of petty enemies among his MAGA politicians and candidates in the Tar Heel state, privately portraying himself to his Trumpist compatriots as the state’s true gatekeeper for the 45th president, two people with Knowledge of the situation presented called. “He thinks he’s such a big beast,” said one of the people.
Erwin — a former sheriff in Henderson, NC — says he saw a similar pattern locally. “I know a lot of people who gave him significant amounts of money, worked hard for him, supported him and, mate, they just back off or say ‘no way.’ We’re not going there,” he added.
Cawthorn has seen many scandals in recent months. Experts have questioned whether his holding and endorsement of a Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency violates insider trading rules. And in late April, he was stopped for a second time at a North Carolina airport and served with a subpoena for carrying a loaded handgun while trying to get through security.
Cawthorn critics have also repeatedly circulated photos and videos purporting to be of someone formerly close to Cawthorn or his campaign, showing him in embarrassing situations. The leaked content seems aimed, at least in part, at getting conservative voters to question Cawthorn’s sexuality.
“This guy is a hot mess,” said Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor and MAGAland stalwart who occasionally advises Trump on 2022 candidates. “I think he needs to move on to other work in the private sector. There’s too much drama floating around for him to explain. He constantly dismisses sketchy behavior by saying it was a long time ago; but he’s only 26 years old so it’s not that long ago…I have nothing personal against him; I just don’t think he needs to be a “new face” to the party when all the photos and videos come out. It is difficult for established politicians to stand next to him.”
In April, Politically received photos of Cawthorn on a cruise in lingerie and posed with two women. A week later the Daily Mail released a video of Cawthorne saying he would “like to see a naked body under my hands” while an employee’s hand is near his groin.
The video comes from an ethics complaint against Cawthorn filed by American Muckrakers PAC, a political action committee of Democrats who opposed his re-election, asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate “whether any House Rules or bylaws were violated by the relationship between Rep. Cawthorn” and the employee depicted in the image Daily Mail Video.
This week, the PAC released another video showing a naked Cawthorn “dry butting someone in the head,” allegedly shared by “a former Cawthorn supporter and big donor who asked to remain anonymous.”
Since video of Cawthorn’s seemingly teenage antics, critics have speared the leak as an irresponsible attempt to incite and legitimize homophobia to topple the North Carolina Republican. In an interview Thursday, Morris Davis, a former Air Force colonel who was running as a Democrat against Cawthorn in 2020, defended the PAC’s decision to release the video and its alleged relevance to the campaign.
“The reason we put it out is just because of Cawthorn’s blatant hypocrisy. His bread and butter is the Christian right. He’s trying to stop, in his mind, the liberal, anti-family, anti-American — that whole narrative that he’s taken on when he’s doing stuff like that,” Davis told Rolling Stone. “I don’t lose sleep worrying about Madison Cawthorn. I think people have a right to know what a hypocrite he is.”
However, by Friday, the PAC had quietly removed the video from its website.
Cawthorn also ran afoul of much of MAGAworld when he endorsed Josh Mandel in the Ohio Republican Senate primary. That put Cawthorn on the wrong side of the former president’s feud with the more conservative Club for Growth and its president, David McIntosh, who served as one of Mandel’s key supporters.
Trump stayed away from official support for the main fight until the final weeks of the race, when lurid rumors about McIntosh’s personal habits, spread by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, helped push Trump to further spurn the club and finally to support Vance. But before Trump got involved, Cawthorn’s closest allies at the MAGA caucus had already signaled they would stay away from Mandel. Greene endorsed Vance in January, describing him as a “conservative warrior that the entire America First movement must fight for us.” Gaetz hailed Vance for “establishing a clinic in the Ohio Senate debates” in early April, and reiterated Trump’s confirmation of the Ivy League financier days later.
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/madison-cawthorn-videos-trump-maga-endorsement-1350478/ Madison Cawthorn videos have Trump ‘completely weird’