The last few weeks have been quite tumultuous for far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court heard arguments in a lawsuit Cawthorn filed to block a legal challenge to his re-election bid. But things really started to tailspin Wednesday, when he sent a frantic tweet responding to mounting allegations of misconduct.
“Don’t let the swamp of Washington dissuade or distract you from sending a warrior back to Washington,” Cawthorn tweeted, captioning a nearly eight-minute video of him addressing some of the claims.
The freshman lawmaker has fallen out of favor with establishment Republicans in recent weeks, largely stemming from his stories of being invited to orgies and witnessing cocaine use by people he once respected in Washington. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was infuriated by the claims and told Axios that Cawthorn had lost his trust. McCarthy claimed Cawthorn conceded that some of his remarks were "exaggerated."
Nonetheless, Cawthorn's story — true or not — made clear to me and many others at the time: Republicans in Washington engage in some wild extracurriculars. And ever since Cawthorn made the allegations, unfavorable news stories about him have been dropping, from allegations of insider trading (which he has yet to directly address) to an ethics complaint that alleged Cawthorn had “not properly filed House financial disclosures regarding gifts and loans” to one of his staffers. A representative for Cawthorn identified the staffer as Cawthorn’s “cousin” and called the complaint “ridiculous.”
On Wednesday night, political action group American Muckrakers PAC leaked a video that appeared to show a naked Cawthorn thrusting his body into someone.
Cawthorn quickly admitted it was him and defended his behavior as simply “being crass with a friend” and “trying to be funny.”
“I told you there would be a drip drip campaign,” Cawthorn tweeted. He described the video as “blackmail.”
The leaked video was just the latest in a series of salacious stories involving Cawthorn. It suggests there's someone — or several people — providing potentially embarrassing information about Cawthorn to groups that oppose him.
And I suspect it’s someone from the GOP who is ticked off over Cawthorn’s stories of orgies and drug use. After all, Cawthorn has done some pretty concerning things in recent years with little to no pushback from Republicans until now.
It seems like Cawthorn might agree on the source. Last week, he accused the Republican “establishment” and “RINO” (Republican in name only) senators of trying to sabotage his re-election bid.
There’s no telling whether any of this will have an impact on his viability in this year’s midterms. For now, we’re all just forced to observe what looks like a GOP feud — one with no likable characters and that seems to get more bizarre by the day.