Washington — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday admonished Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina over claims he had watched members of Congress use drugs and was invited to an “orgy.”
McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill that he told Cawthorn during a private meeting that the first-term congressman “lost my trust,” and the allegations Cawthorn had made during a podcast interview last week were “exaggerated,” according to Axios.
“It’s just frustration. There’s no evidence behind his statements,” McCarthy said, according to reports, adding, “I told him you can’t make statements like that, as a member of Congress, that affects everybody else and the country as a whole.”
The GOP leader said Cawthorn’s comments upset many lawmakers, and he warned Cawthorn could face consequences for what McCarthy said are “unacceptable” remarks.” McCarthy also told reporters that Cawthorn acknowledged some of his claims were “exaggerated.”
“In the interview, he claims he watched people do cocaine. Then when he comes in he tells me — he says he thinks he saw maybe a staffer in a parking garage from 100 yards away,” McCarthy told reporters.
Cawthorn made the claims about lawmakers’ behavior during an interview last week on the podcast Warrior Poet Society after he was asked whether the Netflix series “House of Cards” was an accurate portrayal of Washington or fictitious.
“The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington, I mean, being kind of a young guy in Washington where the average age is probably 60 or 70, and I look at all these people, a lot of them that I’ve looked up to through my life. I’ve always paid attention to politics,” he said. “Then all of a sudden you get invited to ‘Hey, we’re going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes, you should come.’ And I’m like, ‘What did you just ask me to come to?’ And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy.”
Cawthorn continued, “Or the fact that there are some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country and then you watch them doing a key bump of cocaine right in front of you. And it’s like, this is wild.”
The accusations from the first-term congressman did not sit well with some of his fellow Republican lawmakers, some of whom voiced their frustrations during a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference on Tuesday, Politico reported.
Cawthorn has in recent weeks been publicly condemned by McCarthy over his comments, most recently after he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug” and claimed the government of Ukraine is “incredibly corrupt” and “incredibly evil.”
The House minority leader said Cawthorn was “wrong” about his characterization of Zelenskyy, though he said he then that he still planned to support his reelection campaign.
McCarthy’s rebukes came after House Democrats had lambasted him for not doing enough to address behavior from other Republican members, namely Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who both spoke at a gathering of white nationalists last month. Gosar was also stripped of his committee assignments and censured by the House after he posted an edited anime video to his social media accounts that depicted violence against President Biden and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
The three are close allies of former President Donald Trump and have promoted claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen.