House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy delivered a lecture and a warning to Rep. Madison Cawthorn in a private meeting on Wednesday. The North Carolina freshman has publicly talked about being invited to an orgy by other lawmakers and seeing a colleague take cocaine, Politico reports—stories that McCarthy said have "a lot of members very upset." That behavior is part of what prompted the Republican leader to say, "He’s lost my trust," adding, "He's going to have to earn it back." Cawthorn could be booted off House committees, for instance.
Cawthorn and his spokesman did not immediately comment about the meeting, but McCarthy said the lawmaker admitted some of the things he said were false or exaggerated, per Axios. "I laid out everything I find is unbecoming," McCarthy said, adding that he told Cawthorn it's not good enough to say he won't do it again. In addition, Cawthorn called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a "thug" and lied to a Capitol officer to get a candidate onto the House floor. McCarthy said that he laid out changes Cawthorn needs to make in "his own life as well" and that it's unacceptable for a member of Congress to fail to show up in court and drive with a revoked license.
McCarthy said he might meet again with Cawthorn as party leaders decide what to do about him. Rep. Steve Womack is among the members who want to hear more than a promise to do better. "That hasn’t worked," Womack said. "Frankly, if western North Carolina is not going to fix the problem, then leadership will have to." Others have called on Cawthorn to provide names or withdraw his allegations. McCarthy said he's frustrated. "There's no evidence behind his statements," the leader said, adding that he told Cawthorn "you can't make statements like that, as a member of Congress, that affects everybody else and the country as a whole." (Read more Madison Cawthorn stories.)