After Latest Intimate Video Leak, Madison Cawthorn Slams 'Blackmail,' Says 'I Was Being Crass' in Old Footage

"We were acting foolish, and joking. That's it," the North Carolina lawmaker said on Twitter. "I'm NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won't win. We will"

Madison Cawthorn
Madison Cawthorn. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Madison Cawthorn on Wednesday night addressed another private video that had begun circulating online — this one appearing to show him rubbing his naked body on someone else.

The footage was released by an anti-Cawthorn political action group hours after the North Carolina lawmaker had released a more-than seven minute video statement addressing other controversies that have dogged his short term in office, which he has cast as an "outlandish" and "coordinated attack" by critics on his career.

"A new hit against me just dropped. Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny," Cawthorn wrote on Twitter on Wednesday in response to the second video.

"We were acting foolish, and joking. That's it," he continued. "I'm NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won't win. We will."

It's the latest in a lengthening string of scandals and headline-making behavior for the 26-year-old Republican, who has been the subject of scrutiny concerning his comments around the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, bringing a loaded gun to a Charlotte airport, various driving infractions and more.

A political action committee dedicated to removing him from office filed an ethics complaint last week, alleging he did not properly file House of Representatives financial disclosures regarding "gifts and loans" given to his scheduler.

One of the leaked videos and Venmo comments released by the anti-Cawthorn PAC appear to show him and his aide joking with one another and the aide, who is also Cawthorn's cousin, placing his hand on Cawthorn's thigh.

Many in Cawthorn's own party have recently expressed disappointment and annoyance with the young lawmaker, who was elected in 2020 at age 25, when he replaced Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in Congress.

At least some of the intra-party problems stem from Cawthorn's appearance on a podcast in March when he suggested that other lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were doing drugs and engaging in orgies.

That comment caused friction between Cawthorn and other members of the GOP, including House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who said the young lawmaker had "lost [his] trust."

Since making those comments and in the lead-up to Cawthorn's bid for re-election — he is running in a crowded primary in North Carolina's 13th Congressional District though he has touted what he calls continued voter support — various videos, photos and stories about him have begun to trickle out.

The pattern reached a crescendo this week with the newest leaked video, apparently depicting Cawthorn naked and stretched out next to another person, who he then rubs against in an aggressive manner.

Earlier in the day Wednesday, Cawthorn released his first video alluding to the footage of him and his aide.

"You are witnessing one of the first examples of a politician who grew up with a cellphone in their hand, with the ability to take photos, videos and have others use that content as a way to hurt you," Cawthorn said in the video, which he posted to Twitter. "Most of my colleagues in Congress right now would not be serving if they grew up within a single mile of a cell phone growing up."

He continued: "Now, this video is just stupid locker room talk between two cousins that grew up like brothers. Taken long before I served in Congress. And my cousin Steven, that they're attacking, is my ADA. He's family. And he's my best friend."

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These personal issues come against a backdrop of legal concerns for Cawthorn: Fellow North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis — no fan of Cawthorn, despite their shared party — called for a bipartisan ethics investigation following a report that Cawthorn may have been involved in insider trading related to the launch of the "Let's Go Brandon" cryptocurrency.

"Congressman Cawthorn owes North Carolinians an explanation," Tillis wrote on Twitter last week.

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