Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a “thug” and denigrated the Ukrainian government.
Karl Rove, a Republican strategist, first mentioned Cawthorn made the remarks while speaking to a crowd in Asheville recently before WRAL-TV published footage of the first-term lawmaker speaking.
“Remember that Zelensky is a thug,” Cawthorn was seen saying. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and it is incredibly evil and it has been pushing woke ideologies. It really is the new woke world empire.”
Other GOP lawmakers were quick to denounce Cawthorn’s statement, accusing him of favoring Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Like 90 percent of the country is with Ukrainians and is opposed to Putin,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who last week came under fire for calling for a Russian “Brutus” to assassinate Putin. “So when you see a member of Congress say things like this, the one thing I want you to know: they’re outliers.”
“To my colleague in the House, I would push back and say it’s not Ukraine that is invading Russia,” responded Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). “It is Russia invading Ukraine.”
Two North Carolina Republicans hoping to defeat Cawthorn in the GOP primary later this year also took the opportunity to condemn Cawthorn’s remarks.
“Let’s be clear,” said state Sen. Chuck Edwards on Twitter. “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.”
“I do not understand how anyone in American public office could call Zelensky a ‘thug’ while Ukraine is under such vicious assault,” said Michele Woodhouse in a statement posted to her campaign website. “Conservatives in my district are terrified that we will lose this republican seat to a leftist Biden democrat if Cawthorn somehow wins the nomination.”
However, Cawthorn has made clear that he does not approve of Russia’s actions either.
“The actions of Putin and Russia are disgusting,” Cawthorn said on Twitter on March 10, the same day the footage was released. “But leaders, including Zelensky, should NOT push misinformation on America.”
“I am praying for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Cawthorn added. “Pray also we are not drawn into conflict based on foreign leaders pushing misinformation.”
Cawthorn’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Cawthorn is one of few GOP lawmakers to have criticized Ukraine, though a larger number of members of Congress, on both sides, have called for the United States not to send troops to Ukraine or impose a no-fly zone.
The proper U.S. response to the Russian invasion has divided the old guard of the GOP—including figures like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Graham who have called for heavy U.S. involvement in the conflict—from more populist-leaning newcomers like Cawthorn, Senate candidate J.D. Vance, and conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, who have demanded that the U.S. stay out of the conflict.
In a statement to a news outlet, a spokesman for Cawthorn explained his position further.
Cawthorn “supports Ukraine and the Ukrainian President’s efforts to defend their country against Russian aggression, but does not want America drawn into another conflict through emotional manipulation,” the spokesman said.
Have you received Salvation from Jesus the Messiah? Time is running out. Jesus will return very soon. The signs of His return are everywhere in this crazy world we are living in. Please read below so that you can be saved. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The Words below are directly from the Bible, so you can trust them.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all )is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. IF YOU KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9)
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
For those of us who persevere and do what Jesus says to do, we have this to look forward to in eternity: And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
The Bible – New King James Version, NKJV