WASHINGTON — Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., on Sunday promoted false claims about election fraud and warned that there could be “bloodshed” over any future elections Republicans consider to be rigged.
“The things that we are wanting to fight for, it doesn’t matter if our votes don’t count,” Cawthorn said at the Macon County Republican Party headquarters in Franklin, N.C. “Because, you know, if our election systems continue to be rigged, and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place, and it’s bloodshed.”
A video of his remarks was first posted by the county party on Facebook but has since been taken down. A brief clip of his comments still appears on Twitter and has been verified by NBC News. Lawmakers are currently back in their districts for Congress’ annual August recess.
The 26-year-old freshman lawmaker, the youngest member of Congress, has repeated false claims made by former President Donald Trump that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Cawthorn then implied that he would resort to using a gun if necessary to defend against voter fraud in the future.
“I will tell you, as much as I am willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there is nothing that I would dread doing more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American,” said Cawthorn, who added that they need to “passionately demand that we have election security in all 50 states.”
Cawthorn’s spokesman, Luke Ball, did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment. Ball told The Washington Post that the Republican congressman was “in no way supporting or advocating for any form of violence.”
“In his comments, Congressman Cawthorn is CLEARLY advocating for violence not to occur over election integrity questions,” Ball said. “He fears others would erroneously choose that route and strongly states that election integrity issues should be resolved peacefully and never through violence.”
Trump was impeached for his role in the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 after he said at a rally in Washington, “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
His supporters then traveled the Capitol, where they started a violent riot and breached security in an effort to interrupt the counting of electoral votes that solidified Joe Biden’s election as president.