Far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) recently trashed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the leader fights off the Russian forces that’ve been attacking Ukraine for two weeks.
In a video obtained by WRAL, Cawthorn is seen railing against Zelensky and the Ukrainian government at an event with supporters over the weekend, advancing a bizarre line of argument that mixed America’s right-wing grievances with Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s description of the administration in Kyiv.
“Remember that Zelensky is a thug,” the congressman says. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and it is incredibly evil and it has been pushing woke ideologies.”
Cawthorn’s rant echoed Putin’s spin on the Ukrainian government, which he recently described as a “band of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who have holed up in Kyiv and taken the entire Ukrainian people hostage.”
Strangely, snippets of Cawthorn’s remarks were first quoted by longtime GOP operative Karl Rove in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published yesterday, in which he urged fellow Republicans to “stand up for Ukraine.” Rove stated that the remarks were delivered at a town hall in Asheville, North Carolina held on Saturday.
Rove cited Cawthorn’s description of Zelensky as “a thug” and his government as “incredibly evil” as an example of Republican rhetoric that was out of step with GOP voters, who largely agree that Russia is to blame for the conflict.
It’s unclear if the video obtained by WRAL was of the same Saturday event Rove described.
Even ex-President Donald Trump, after initially praising Putin as “brilliant” and “savvy” as the Russian leader moved aggressively toward invading Ukraine, seemingly recognized that he was straying too far and has backpedaled in recent days, calling the invasion a “holocaust” last week and suggesting on Saturday that the U.S. “bomb the shit out of Russia.”
Revelations of Cawthorn’s remarks came a day after the Republican was charged with driving with a revoked license when he was pulled over for speeding for the third time in the past several months.
Cawthorn’s attacks against Zelensky as a “thug” also come as the GOP lawmaker himself is under scrutiny for helping Trump fuel the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.