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GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn says the Capitol rioters were mostly 'normal people' who were 'kind of wandering in'

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Madison Cawthorn moves through a hallway while looking at the camera.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn said in an exclusive interview with North Carolina news outlet Smoky Mountain News that the Capitol rioters were mostly "normal" people who were "wandering" into the building. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn has doubled down on his defense of the Capitol rioters.

  • Cawthorn told a North Carolina news outlet that most Capitol rioters were "normal people" who were "kind of wandering in."

  • Reports released this week found that Capitol rioters committed more than 1,000 assaults on police on January 6.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

North Carolina GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn has doubled down on his defense of the Capitol rioters.

In an exclusive September 2 interview with Smoky Mountain News, a local news outlet based in North Carolina, Cawthorn said the rioters were mostly "normal people" who were "kind of wandering in."

"I believe a group of people within the January 6 protestors, a small minority who literally were the ones that endangered people's lives, ones who got very aggressive, who were the ones busting down the doors, were going bare-knuckle fisticuffs with the Capitol Police. Those people, I believe are dangerous individuals," Cawthorn said in the interview.

"But the overwhelming majority of the people of the January 6 thing were just normal people, there for a normal protest to redress their government. And then they saw an open door at the top of the Capitol, and they were just kind of wandering in," Cawthorn said.

The North Carolina lawmaker also made the news earlier week when he called the Capitol riot suspects "political hostages." Speaking at an August 29 event in Franklin, North Carolina, Cawthorn said he wanted to "try and bust them out of jail."

"If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, it's gonna lead to one place and it's bloodshed," said Cawthorn in his August 29 speech.

His comments this week come amid reports that more than 1,000 assaults were committed against police officers on January 6, per Axios.

Cawthorn is not the only member of the Republican party who has made public statements minimizing the violence that took place at the Capitol on January 6. In May, Rep. Andrew Clyde likened the Capitol rioters to tourists.

Other prominent conservatives like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz have also spoken up in defense of the Capitol rioters, calling them "political prisoners" at a press conference on July 27. Greene and Gaetz even made an unannounced visit to the DC Department of Corrections on July 29 in an attempt to visit the Capitol riot suspects. They accused the DC authorities of "hiding something" when they were not admitted entrance.

Multiple police officers who were at the Capitol have said the events of January 6 were far from peaceful. In a July 27 hearing before the House select committee that is investigating the riot, officers gave testimonies about the racism and physical harm they were subjected to by attackers during the riot.

More than 630 people have been arrested in connection with the riots, an Insider database shows. Their charges range from assaulting members of law enforcement to disorderly conduct in a restricted building.

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