Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) got into a heated exchange Wednesday at the House Oversight Committee’s questioning of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Rep. Tlaib objected to Meadows calling on HUD official Lynne Patton after Cohen called Trump a “racist.” Meadows had invited Patton, who is black, to the hearing.
“Lynne Patton says she would not work for a man who is racist,” Meadows told Cohen. “She disagrees with you.”
Tlaib condemned that action saying, "just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them does not mean that they aren't racist."
"The fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself," she added.
Meadows interrupted Tlaib, asking for her comments be stricken from the record.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked her if she’d like to rephrase her remarks, and she said she was not calling Meadows a racist but saying “as a person of color” she felt that it was “it in itself is a racist act.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib condemns what she calls a "racist act" by Rep. Mark Meadows, and things go off the rails...— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) February 27, 2019
"I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist, for doing so, I'm saying that, in itself, it is a racist act." https://t.co/oEziZtsEZd pic.twitter.com/hLfSWs7Ulb
"There’s nothing more personal to me than my relationship,” Meadows said in reply, “my nieces and nephews are people of color, not many people know that."
Meadows said that Tlaib's remark that Patton was coming in as a prop was "racist."
"And to indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family, who has worked for him, who has worked for this particulate individual … that’s she’s coming in to be a prop, it’s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in for that reason," he continued.
“She came in because she felt like the president was being falsely accused,” he emphasized.
Cummings then attempted to end the dispute and defended Meadows, calling him one of his "best friends."
“If there's anyone who is sensitive with regard to race, it's me, son of former sharecroppers that were basically slaves, so I get it," Cummings said. "I listen very carefully to Ms. Tlaib, and I think, and I don't want to, I'm not going to put words in her mouth, but I think she said that she was not calling you a racist, and I thought that we could clarify that, because, Mr. Meadows, you know, of all the people on this committee, I've said it — and got in trouble for it — that you're one of my best friends."
“I could see and feel your pain, I feel it,” Cummings told Meadows. “I don’t think Ms. Tlaib intended to cause you that, that kind of pain and frustration.”
Tlaib apologized and clarified again that she had not meant to refer to Meadows as a racist.
Meadows thanked her for clarifying and dropped his request for her remarks to be stricken from the record.
Patton defended her appearance at the hearing in a statement earlier Wednesday, telling PBS that it was about "two people who know the president equally and who disagree."
NEW: I just interviewed Lynne Patton, the Black HUD official who stood next to Rep. Mark Meadows to say that President Trump is not racist. She told me: “To me, today was not about the color of my skin. Today was about two people who know the president equally and who disagree.” pic.twitter.com/TJXfHhWXlI— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) February 27, 2019
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) defended Meadows on Twitter and said Tlaib had made an "absurd accusation."
Yet another display of reckless incivility by this new House Democrat majority. My friend and colleague @RepMarkMeadows is one of the most decent people that I know and he showed tremendous class in the face of an absurd accusation from Rep. Tlaib.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 27, 2019