Madison Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress, has wasted zero time getting to work as North Carolina’s newly-appointed representative of the state’s 11th congressional district. But Cawthorn isn’t focused on COVID-19 relief, quelling the fallout of a historic recession, or aiding the reported 1 million children living in poverty in North Carolina. Instead, the Hitler-admiring congressman is spending his first weeks in office continuing to peddle 2020 presidential election conspiracy theories — his reputation, credibility, or appearance on national television be damned.
During an interview with CNN’s Pamela Brown, Cawthorn was asked to provide evidence of so-called election fraud. The result was as entertaining as it was damning.
“What are some specific examples that informed this bold decision, this audacious decision, even after the riots, to decertify the results? You must have seen some concrete evidence,” Brown said. In response, Cawthron immediately backpedalled, claiming that he wasn’t objecting to the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory due to claims that Dominion Voting Systems was changing ballots, or that UHaul trucks were driving to voting stations and dumping fraudulent ballots in favour of Biden.
“The thing I was objecting for is things like I said, in the state of Wisconsin, particularly in the town of Madison, where there was an appointed official in that town that actually went against the will of the state legislature and created ballot drop boxes, which is basically ballot harvesting that was happening in the parks,” he said.
The problem? These claims were litigated and either dismissed, withdrawn, or never brought to trial due to a lack of evidence, as Brown goes on to mention. “Indeed,” Cawthorn replies, “I believe specifically, and this is the one that I debated on on behalf of on the House floor, in Wisconsin that was never heard because they dismissed it because of standing.” Cawthorn attempts to argue that dismissing these cases is not “concrete enough” of a reason to throw out the cases.
“Three Trump-appointed judges actually threw out these cases because of merit. It was because of merit,” Brown follows up. “You keep talking about Wisoncsin: I’m still not hearing any specific examples of fraud. If you would, just tell us what are the specific examples you saw of fraud. Because when you think of fraud you think of a vote — you’re slipping one past from the election official, or a vote was stolen; somehow it didn’t count. Did you see that specifically?”
Cawthorn takes a beat before replying, “No Pam, and like I said that’s not the reason I contested the election.”
“Hold on: so you wanted to throw out millions of votes without actually seeing any concrete evidence of fraud? Because that’s what you were doing when you were contesting the election — the intent there was throwing out millions of votes.”
“Well I disagree with you on that point,” Cawthorn responds. “That was not my intent. My intent was to hold up the constitution.”
The fact that Cawthorn made a fool of himself on national television in yet another attempt to de-legitimize a fair and free election is par for the conspiracy theory-peddling course. Cawthorn has aligned himself with hair dye-melting Rudy Giuliani, Sidney “Hugo Chavez did it” Powell, and QAnon supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor, who once claimed the Sandy Hook school shooting was “staged.”
Then again, he doesn’t need to align himself with Trump sycophants to prove his allegiance is to the illusion of reality instead of reality itself. Most recently, on Jan. 22, The Nation published a damning article alleging Cawthorn lied about being accepted to the Naval Academy prior to the 2014 car crash that left him paralyzed, lied about being a successful businessman, and lied about training for the 2020 Paralympic Games.
[Insert something about people in glass houses here.]
While we’d all like to believe that the era of “alternative facts” left politics the day Trump flew away from the White House, politicians like Cawthorn are a reminder that what the Trump administration gave air and legitimacy to is alive and well. Thankfully, Pamela Brown is also a reminder that these outright lies are easily deflated, if only the media has the courage to face them head-on.