North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” at a rally over the weekend.

“Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies,” Cawthorn said, without elaborating on what the “woke ideologies” were.

The comments sparked a backlash from both sides.

“Let’s not forget that the overwhelming majority of [Republicans] sided with Trump when he tried to withhold military aid from Ukraine and we shouldn’t be surprised this type of anti-Ukraine sentiment has found a place in the Republican Party,” Democratic National Committee spokesperson Ammar Moussa said in a statement.


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“Like 90% of the country is with Ukrainians and is opposed to Putin,” said South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. “So when you see a member of Congress say things like this, the one thing I want you to know: they’re outliers.”

Cawthorn attempted to justify his comments.

“The actions of Putin and Russia are disgusting,” Cawthorn tweeted. “But leaders, including Zelensky, should NOT push misinformation on America.”

“I am praying for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” he added. “Pray also we are not drawn into conflict based on foreign leaders pushing misinformation.”

The video adds to the string of bad press for Cawthorn. Last Thursday, Cawthorn was pulled over in Cleveland County, North Carolina after a state trooper watched his truck drift over the centerline of the road. The encounter resulted in the congressman being charged for driving with a revoked license for the second time. The first offense happened before he was elected to the House of Representatives, back in 2017. Those charges were dismissed, but Cawthorn will appear in court for his recent violation on Friday, May 6.

Watch the video of Cawthorn’s comments below.

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