U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina faced brickbats after he was caught on video claiming that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a "thug" and the Ukrainian government was "corrupt and evil." The undated video clip was widely shared on social media.
However, hours after the clip surfaced on social media, Cawthorn changed his tone and tweeted about Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions being "disgusting."
Cawthorn Claimed Ukraine Government Pushed 'Woke Ideologies'
WRAL, a local news network in Raleigh, North Carolina, initially shared the clip on Thursday. Cawthorn is heard speaking on the mike, "Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies."
Soon after the clip surfaced, Cawthorn, who is running for reelection in the state's westernmost district, backtracked on the comments and instead targeted the Russian President.
Accusing the leaders of pushing the misinformation on America, Cawthorn tweeted, "Propaganda is being used to entice America into another war. I do not want Americans dying because emotions pushed us into a conflict. The actions of Putin and Russia are disgusting. But leaders, including Zelensky, should NOT push misinformation on America."
"I am praying for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Pray also we are not drawn into conflict based on foreign leaders pushing misinformation," he added.
Cawthorn Faces Heat on Social Media
Cawthorn's remarks evoked a strong reaction from fellow leaders. USA Today reported reacting to the conservative Republican's comments, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said Russian President Vladimir Putin was the corrupt thug, not Zelenskyy. "So to my colleague in the House, I would push back and say it's not Ukraine that is invading Russia. It is Russia invading Ukraine. And they are going to have — Russia is going to have a world of hurt on their hands. But we have to be able to provide them the means to do it," said Ernst.
In a tweet, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., wrote, "I commend the United States Naval Academy for having the foresight to reject GOP Rep Madison Cawthorn, who had lied about getting accepted by the Academy."
"Rep. Madison Cawthorn Calls Ukrainian President Zelenskyy A 'Thug' He is a low class from south and crippled man with lots of serious complexes , Only uneducated people from south will elect a creep who looks like themself," responded a Twitter user.
"GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn called Zelenskyy a "thug" Cawthorn should be well aware of what a "thug" is, having recently struggled to pull his nose from Trump's ass," read another tweet.
"President Zelensky is way more of a man the you are! He fights for his country! A thug is Putin, but how can we expect you to be stand up guy since you can't follow rules on driving with a license!" wrote another user.