Pelosi's office rips McCarthy's silence over Cawthorn's 'bloodshed' comment

The office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) silence over comments made last weekend by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in a statement Tuesday. 

"Like he has several times this year, Minority Leader McCarthy is refusing to take action against a member of his conference who is calling for violence," a statement by Pelosi's press office said. 

"McCarthy backed Representative Taylor Greene after she threatened to execute Members of Congress. He sat on his hands as his members and allies threatened the lives of police officers who responded to January's insurrection. McCarthy himself even joked about hitting Speaker Pelosi with a gavel," the statement said. "Now McCarthy is refusing to confront one of his members for calling for 'bloodshed' on behalf of the insurrectionists many House Republicans consider to be 'political prisoners.'"  

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The statement by the speaker's office comes after Cawthorn at an event last weekend described the Jan. 6 rioters currently held in law enforcement custody as "political hostages" and "political prisoners" and raised the threat of violence if people continue to believe that elections are "stolen."

"If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, it's gonna lead to one place, and it's bloodshed," Cawthorn said.

One House Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), condemned Cawthorn's remarks as "insane."

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Cawthorn responded to Pelosi Wednesday, saying that the speaker mischaracterized his comments.

"Speaker Pelosi took advantage of a left-wing media hit job and lied about my words for her gross political agenda. She dangerously and deliberately chose to mischaracterize my comments as violent speech when I clearly called for violence not to occur," Cawthorn said in a statement. 

Luke Ball, a spokesman for Cawthorn, stressed that the "bloodshed" comment was intended as a call to restore integrity in elections and that the congressman "strongly states that election integrity issues should be resolved peacefully and never through violence.”

Updated 4:48 p.m.