Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) said he was armed with a gun during the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill by supporters of President Donald Trump, many of whom came from a rally where Cawthorn spoke earlier in the day.
Speaking to the Smoky Mountain News a day after the violence, Cawthorn said he was on the House floor when lawmakers were notified to evacuate as a mob of Trump supporters began to pour into the Capitol.
“Fortunately, I was armed, so we would have been able to protect ourselves,” Cawthorn told the publication.
A spokesperson for the first-term lawmaker also confirmed to HuffPost that Cawthorn was carrying a gun the day of the siege.
“It’s Congressman Cawthorn’s general posture to practice his 2nd Amendment rights, as well as the rights afforded to him as a member of Congress,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
A 1967 regulation exempts members of Congress from a federal law banning firearms on the Capitol grounds, though the weapons are still banned on the House floor. It’s unclear if Cawthorn had his gun on the floor, and Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.
“Congressman Cawthorn also abides by all Capitol Police regulations that he is informed of,” Cawthorn’s spokesperson added.
Just hours before the mob attack, Cawthorn ― who has previously sparked outrage for his visit to Adolf Hitler’s vacation retreat in 2017 ― was at a “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C. to encourage Trump supporters to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“There is a new Republican Party on the rise that will represent this country, that will go and fight in Washington, D.C.,” he told the crowd, according to the Asheville Citizen Times. “My friends, I encourage you, continue to make your voice heard, because, do we love Donald Trump?”
And in December, Cawthorn spoke at a Turning Point USA event urging conservatives to “lightly threaten” lawmakers who have accepted that Joe Biden will be the 46th president.
“Call you congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them and say: ‘You know what, if you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you. Madison Cawthorn is coming after you. Everybody’s coming after you.’”
Five people died in last week’s violence, including a Capitol Hill police officer who was pepper sprayed and bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher by the crowd of insurrectionists.
Trump is set to face his second impeachment for his role in sparking the violence. Meanwhile, multiple Republican lawmakers have balked at the idea of increased security at the Capitol, including being asked to walk through a metal detector when entering the building.
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