GOP’s Madison Cawthorn Calls Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy a “Thug”

Rep. Madison CawthornTom Williams/AP

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Eager to be on the right side of history as a brutal war drags on, Republicans in recent weeks have suddenly dropped the party’s steady embrace of Vladimir Putin. Even Tucker Carlson, who had claimed it wasn’t “un-American” to support Putin, has frantically backpedaled.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn doesn’t appear to have gotten the memo. 
“Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug,” the North Carolina congressman told supporters over the weekend, according to a video obtained by WRAL. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”
Cawthorn’s remarks, which parrot Russian propaganda, were first reported by none other than Karl Rove. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed urging the GOP to stand up for Ukraine, the former senior adviser to George W. Bush called out Cawthorn, along with Ohio senatorial candidate JD Vance, for their anti-Ukraine stances, insisting that neither man was reflective of the Republican Party at large. Ever the political strategist, Rove whips up a number of recent polls to argue that most Republican voters aren’t in favor of Putin’s invasion.
But while we love to see Rove as unlikely GOP snitch, his belief that Cawthorn is out of step with the rest of the party relies heavily on political amnesia. Sure, Donald Trump may have been outspoken in his admiration for Putin. But for years, Republicans have adopted similar pro-Kremlin views. Perhaps most consequentially, Republican leaders have been cheerleaders for blatantly undemocratic measures, such as book bans and the curtailment of voting rights, that mirror Putin’s own policies. But why bother with those minor details, right Karl?