Madison Cawthorn Seen Cleaning Gun During Virtual Hearing on Veterans Affairs – Newsweek

madison-cawthorn-seen-cleaning-gun-during-virtual-hearing-on-veterans-affairs-–-newsweek

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Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina was seen cleaning a gun during a three-hour virtual House Veterans Affairs Committee meeting that took place on Wednesday. The hearing was about military members being exposed to potentially dangerous toxic chemicals.

The 26-year-old Congress member was seen handling a black pistol for several minutes during the testimony of Jen Burch, an Air Force veteran who experienced breathing problems after exposure to a "burn pit" in Afghanistan. At the hearing, she discussed how medical professionals could help assess other veterans who have been affected by the pits.

Burn pits are a common method of burning trash—such as fuel, chemicals, ammunition and explosives—at military sites. Veterans have said that exposure to the pits has left them with breathing, cardiovascular and digestive problems.

A screenshot of Cawthorn handling his firearm during the meeting was posted on Twitter by Lindsay Church, a hearing attendee who is the executive director and co-founder of Minority Veterans of America.

"Imagine you showed up for a Zoom meeting and a colleague decided that was when he needed to clean his gun," Church wrote in his tweet. "Because that's what happened today in a Congressional roundtable on toxic exposure. We're better than this."

Imagine you showed up for a Zoom meeting and a colleague decided that was when he needed to clean his gun. Because that’s what happened today in a Congressional roundtable on toxic exposure. We’re better than this. pic.twitter.com/ePJGKdspfY

— Lindsay Church (@lkmchurch) January 20, 2022

Discussing Cawthorn's action, Burch said, "Here we are taking time out of our day, including the representatives, to talk about a very important issue—a life or death issue for many veterans—and it's like, 'I'm sorry am I boring you? You're not paying attention.'" Burch made her comment to the military news website Task & Purpose.

When asked about Cawthorn's handling of guns during the meeting, Cawthorn's communications director Luke Ball reportedly said, "What could possibly be more patriotic than guns and veterans?"

John Feal, a September 11 first responder who attended the virtual meeting, told The Daily Beast, "It was immature. (Cawthorn is) a child. He lacks common sense. I think the congressman was overcompensating for something that he lacks and feeling inadequate among the heroes on that call."

Rosie Lopez Torres, another attendee of the meeting who is the co-founder of watchdog group Burn Pits 360, told the aforementioned website, "[Cawthorn showed] total disregard and disrespect to America's warfighters. He was so bored with the topic. Those that are sick and dying and the widows in his district should see how much he cares about the issue."

During his initial campaign for national office, Cawthorn said the car accident that turned him into a wheelchair user derailed his plans to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. However, the academy had already rejected his application before the accident occurred, the Asheville Watchdog, a nonprofit investigative news website, discovered.

Cawthorn is a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. In January 2021, he has accused the "Democratic machine" of placing "agitators" among the January 6, 2021, rioters at the U.S. Capitol in order to make former President Donald Trump and his followers look bad. He made the claim without providing any proof.

In late July 2021, he established an online bail fund for Republicans who get arrested for not wearing a mask inside the Capitol. The fund directed donations to his own personal campaign rather than a separate account.

Cawthorn has said that if Republicans retake full control of Congress, he'll pursue legal charges against Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has drawn the ire of conservative Republicans for endorsing COVID-19 prevention methods that Republicans see as "government overreach" that violates personal freedoms.

In early January 2022, a group of 11 North Carolina voters filed a legal challenge seeking to disqualify Cawthorn from running for re-election. The challenge argues that Cawthorn's speech at a "Stop the Steal" rally before the 2021 Capitol riots contributed to the attempted insurrection against the U.S. government, thus rendering him ineligible for office under the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

Newsweek contacted Cawthorn's office for comment.

Madison Cawthorn cleaning gun Veteran Affairs hearing
GOP Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina was seen cleaning a gun during a hearing on veteran affairs. In this photo, Cawthorn speaks during a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol on November 1, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Pete Marovich/Getty

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