This story originally published online at NC Policy Watch.
North Carolina Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn was back in the spotlight Thursday when a video surfaced in which he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and described the Ukrainian government as “incredibly evil” pushing “woke ideologies.”
Cawthorn’s assessment runs counter to that of North Carolina’s two Republican U.S Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.
Burr, a member and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, praised Zelensky and his government yesterday during the committee’s annual, open Worldwide Threats Assessment.
“President Zelensky and likewise the Ukrainian people have reminded us that democracy does not come without a cost. It has to be protected,” said Burr. “This democracy, the independence of Ukraine demands that democracies around the world respond with everything needed to preserve Ukraine’s independence and democracies that are threatened.”
“Likewise leaders like Putin don’t want their people to have the freedoms that we cherish and we strive to protect, ” he continued.
Burr said these freedoms would not be possible without the men and women of the U.S. intelligence community.
“We are eternally grateful for all the work that they do.”
During the open part of the hearing, Burr questioned top intelligence officials on the administration’s justification for its decision to reject Poland’s offer to transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, after publicly a green light to the transfer.
“Analytic objectivity and for all of us here is an absolutely core ethic for the intelligence community,” responded Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. “I do not believe that there is any issue here with respect to political or policy pressure being put on the analysts. They were asked the question of whether or not providing these airplanes would be perceived by the Russians in an escalatory way, and they answered the question.”
Senators continued much of Thursday’s conversation with leaders of the intelligence community in closed session.
Burr was joined in his rejection of Cawthorn’s stance by fellow Senator Thom Tillis in a Thursday afternoon tweet:
Putin’s deranged propaganda revolves around convincing the world that President Zelensky is a “thug” and the Ukrainian government is “evil.” Thankfully, the vast majority of Americans and nearly every single member of Congress are united in support of Ukraine’s fight for freedom.
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) March 10, 2022
Both Burr and Tillis were among a group of 42 Republican Senators to sign onto a letter urging President Biden to work with Poland and NATO allies to expedite the transfer of aircraft and air defense systems, as well as additional support capabilities, to Ukraine. Read the full letter here.
As for Rep. Cawthorn, he avoided media questions about his ‘thug’ remarks during a public appearance in western North Carolina on Thursday.
He has since tweeted that he is praying for Ukraine and that “Zelensky, should not push misinformation on America.”
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