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Cawthorn Says Hundreds Arrested For Capitol Insurrection Are 'Political Prisoners'

Capitol Breach Shooting
Jose Luis Magana
In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the West wall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn (NC-11) is changing his tune about the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

At a campaign event in Macon County, N.C. over the weekend, Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn (NC-11) backed a disproven conspiracy theory saying, without evidence, that 536 people are being held captive in solitary confinement without bail, and without legal representation by the U.S. government.

Cawthorn said other Republicans and Congressional representatives were unwilling to talk about the alleged political imprisonment because it is, "controversial."

"What's controversial is we have 536 people [who] are being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours out of the day who are not being able to have religious freedoms..." Cawthorn said.

He was responding to questions from constituents following a short speech.

Macon County Republican Party Facebook
Macon County Republican Party Facebook
In this Facebook Live screenshot, GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn (NC-11) speaks at a campaign event in Macon County, N.C. on Sunday, Aug. 29.

"What are you doing to support the 535 Americans held captured after January 6th?" a woman in the crowd asked.

"Political hostages, make no doubt. So this is something that we are trying to figure everything out about, there are some criminal activities going on..." he said.

Cawthorn went on to say that his office has been trying to "figure out" what is going on with the people who are being held, but that federal agencies are giving him the run-around and not responding to his requests for information.

"The big problem is we don't actually know where all of the political prisoners are, so if we were to be able to go and try to bust them out..." Cawthorn said before switching track and saying that the reason they were being held was that Washington was trying to make an example of them because they didn't like protestors in the streets.

"When are you going to call us to Washington again?" another constituent asked.

"We are actively working on that one, I don't have an answer on that one right yet," Cawthorn said before returning to respond to the previous questions about so-called political prisoners.

People who stormed the Capitol that day have been charged with assaulting officers with dangerous weapons, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and unlawfully possessing a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds, among other charges.

On the day of the insurrection, Cawthorn spoke at the, "Stop The Steal," rally with then-President Donald Trump and others hours before thousands descended on the U.S. Capitol in a scene of violence and chaos. Cawthorn told the crowd it, "had fight in it."

CNN reports the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 events is asking telecommunications companies to keep phone records that day from people who spoke at the rally, including a group of Republican Congressional representatives, which includes Cawthorn.

A day after posting videos of himself on social media urging the crowd to move toward the Capitol building, Cawthorn spoke out against the people who stormed the building in an interview with the Smoky Mountain News, calling the group, "disgusting and pathetic."

Cole del Charco is WUNC’s morning reporter. He’s worked for WUNC since 2019.
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