GOP Lawmaker Madison Cawthorn Claimed 'Democratic Machine' Paid Capitol Rioters to Make Trump Look Bad

As rioters supporting President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, newly elected Republican North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn told conservative talk radio program The Charlie Kirk Show that the "Democratic machine" had placed "agitators" among the mob in order to make Trump and his followers look bad.

"I believe that this was agitators strategically placed inside of this group—you can call them Antifa, you can call them people paid by the Democratic machine—but to make the Trump campaign, the Trump movement, look bad, and to make this look like it was a violent outrage, when really the battle was being fought by people like myself and other great patriots who are standing up against the establishment and standing up against this tyranny that we see in our country," Cawthorn said on the program.

Cawthorn also said that he carried multiple loaded weapons that day in the U.S. House chambers. His remarks went largely unnoticed until Sunday, when The Asheville Watchdog first reported them. His claims have also been contradicted by the FBI.

Madison Cawthorn Democratic machine rioters Trump agitators
As insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on January 6, newly elected Republican North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn told the conservative talk radio program The Charlie Kirk Show that the "Democratic machine" had placed "agitators" among the mob in order to make President Donald Trump and his followers look bad. In this screenshot from the RNC’s livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Cawthorn addresses the virtual convention on August 26, 2020. Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee/Getty

The claim that Antifa—that is, anti-fascist protestors—and Democratic-sponsored instigators were involved in the riots has been repeated by Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican Alabama Representative Mo Brooks, pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood and numerous Trump supporters on social media.

However, on January 8, the FBI Assistant Director Steven D'Antuono said that the investigative federal law enforcement agency has found "no indication" to support such claims.

Trump, Cawthorn and numerous other congressional Republicans have also repeated Trump's widely disproven claim that widespread voter fraud caused his election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.

At the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally, Trump falsely claimed that he won the election "by a landslide." Trump then encouraged his followers to march to the Capitol.

"We will never concede, it doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved," Trump told his supporters at the rally. "We fight like Hell and if you don't fight like Hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." He has since called his comments "totally appropriate."

In December, Cawthorn told a conference of young Republicans to "lightly threaten" Congressional members who didn't challenge Biden's election victory.

"Say, 'If you don't support election integrity, I'm coming after you. Madison Cawthorn's coming after you. Everybody's coming after you,'" Cawthorn said, according to The Asheville Watchdog.

In a January 4 Facebook post, Cawthorn wrote, "The future of this Republic hinges on the actions of a solitary few.... It's time to fight."

Five people died in the riot, including an insurrectionist shot in the neck as she tried to enter the House chamber and a Capitol police officer. Trump supporters stole computer equipment, potentially constituting a national security breach.

Cawthorn was among the earliest of 147 Republicans in Congress to publicly say that he would challenge Biden's victory. In a December 31 video on Twitter, he said he had "a list of thousands, yes thousands, of recent instances of election fraud that has led to criminal convictions and even the overturning of election results in our country."

A week later, he told Smoky Mountain News, "I can't personally prove fraud and I have really not seen an overwhelming amount of evidence for it."

Attorney General William Barr, the head of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the federal agency in charge of maintaining election security, have all said that there's no evidence that the election was stolen.

Over 60 court cases making such allegations, filed by the Trump campaign and Republican officials, have also been dismissed or withdrawn from courts due to lack of evidence.

Newsweek contacted Cawthorn's office for comment.