GOP Leader Says Madison Cawthorn's Claims About Orgies and Cocaine Were 'Exaggerated:' 'There's No Evidence'

"It's just frustrating. There's no evidence behind his statements," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters following his talk with Cawthorn, per Axios

Kevin McCarthy, Madison Cawthorn
Kevin McCarthy (left), Madison Cawthorn. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty; Joe Raedle/Getty

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters fellow Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn has "lost his trust" following controversial comments made earlier this week.

McCarthy, 57, spoke to reporters from outlets including Axios after Cawthorn, 26, raised eyebrows with his recent appearance on a podcast in which he claimed that some older lawmakers had allegedly invited him to participate in orgies while others had done "key bumps of cocaine" in front of him.

"It's just frustrating. There's no evidence behind his statements," McCarthy said, per Axios. "And when I sit down with him ... 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."

Axios reported that McCarthy also said Cawthorn's claims were "exaggerated," and that the lawmaker he thought he saw doing cocaine was "maybe a staffer in a parking garage," and not actually a lawmaker.

"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 said.

In his appearance on the Warrior Poet Society podcast — which was filmed — Cawthorn had said, "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. Then all of the sudden you get invited to, 'Well hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes, you should come.' I'm like, 'What did you just ask me to come to do?' And then you realize they are asking you to come to an orgy."

Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Zuma/

He continued: "Some of the people that are leading on the movement to try to remove addiction in our country, then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine in front of you."

Politico reported that other Republicans had expressed their frustrations with the remarks during a closed-door meeting held earlier this week, and that lawmakers including McCarthy intended to speak to him about the comments.

This is the second time in recent weeks McCarthy has made a public statement regarding his frustrations with Cawthorn, a headline-grabbing North Carolina lawmaker who became the youngest member of Congress when he was elected in 2020.

Earlier this month, McCarthy scolded Cawthorn for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a "thug" — a viral comment Cawthorn's office has subsequently clarified.

"Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt, and it is incredibly evil, and it has been pushing woke ideologies," Cawthorn said at an event in North Carolina, according to local TV station WRAL.

A spokesman for Cawthorn did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment but clarified those remarks in a statement to The Washington Post.

"The Congressman was expressing his displeasure at how foreign leaders, including Zelensky, had recently used false propaganda to entice America into becoming involved in an overseas conflict," Luke Ball said. "He supports Ukraine and the Ukrainian President's efforts to defend their country against Russian aggression, but does not want America drawn into another conflict through emotional manipulation."

"Madison is wrong," McCarthy told reporters at a news briefing. "If there's any thug in this world, it's Putin."

While first elected to represent North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, Cawthorn is now running for a second term in the state's new 13th Congressional District, after the census added a seat to the state's map. His recent comments — and the ensuing fallout — could prove problematic for his reelection prospects, with some Republicans announcing they'll be endorsing one of his primary opponents.

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