Democrat Representative Elijah Cummings stood up for his Republican colleague Mark Meadows of North Carolina after Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) made overtures in her remarks that Meadows was a racist.
Tlaib’s remarks came during a hearing where former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was giving testimony.
During that testimony, Cohen repeatedly claimed Trump had made racist remarks, yet could produce no corroborating evidence or recordings.
In her comments during the hearing, Tlaib referred to the presence of Lynne Patton at the hearing as a “prop” which was a “racist act.” Patton was at the hearing of her own accord to refute Cohen’s claims.
“Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib ( D-Michigan). “And it is insensitive … that someone would even say … the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”
Patton is a long-time friend of the Trump family and a 2017 political appointee to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to head up Region II overseeing New York and New Jersey.
Lynne Patton responded on Instagram to chastize Tlaib for calling her a “prop.”
“Today a race card was played. But not by Congressman Mark Meadows. But rather by those on the House Oversight Committee who sadly placed more credence on the word of a self-confessed convicted perjurer, than that of a highly-educated black woman who rose up the ranks of one of the most recognized global real-estate companies in the world, spoke before 25 million people at the Republican National Convention and now successfully oversees the largest HUD program office in the country. That is not the resume of a prop.”
Read the rest of Patton’s statement on Instagram.
After her “prop” remark, Tlaib continued by talking over Meadows’ call for her words to be removed from the record. Once Tlaib yielded her time, Representative Meadows was visibly angry as he spoke.
“Mr. Chairman, I ask that her words referring to an individual member of this body be taken down and stricken from the record,” said Meadows. “I’m sure she didn’t intend to do this, but if anyone knows my record as it relates, it should be you, Mr. Chairman.”
“Excuse me, would you like to re-phrase that statement, Ms. Tlaib?” asked Chairman Cummings.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I can actually read it here,” said Rep. Tlaib.
Upon her response, Cummings shifted in his seat and appeared frustrated.
“Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, that just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist,” Tlaib said, repeating her earlier remarks.
Tlaib continued reading her own notes but changed the wording slightly from what she had said earlier, saying that “it is insensitive, that someone would even say racist … say… say it as racist in itself and would use a black woman as a prop to prove it otherwise.”
Tlaib offered to submit her written notes for the record.
“I’m just saying, that’s what I believed to have happened,” said Tlaib.
“As a person of color in this committee that’s how I felt in at that moment and I wanted to express that, but I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist for doing so, I’m saying that in itself it is a racist act,” Tlaib said, referring to her earlier remarks that Lynne Patton, a black woman, was a “prop.”
Mark Meadows began to object, but Cummings intervened and insisted he would clear things up.
“Now, Ms. Tlaib, I want to make sure I understand,” said Cummings. “You were not intending to call Mr. Meadows a racist, is that right?”
Tlaib again said she wasn’t calling Meadows a racist but instead insisted she was just ‘trying to express herself as a woman of color’.
Cummings returned to Mark Meadows to see if Tlaib’s response was acceptable.
“Mr. Chairman, there’s nothing more personal to me than my relationship — my nieces and nephews are people of color. Not many people know that. You know that, Mr. Chairman,” Representative Meadows said.
“And to indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family, who has worked for him, who knows this particular individual, that she’s coming in to be a prop — it’s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in here for that reason,” Meadows added.
“She loves this family, she came in because she felt like the President of the United States was getting falsely accused,” said Meadows. “And Mr. Chairman you are, you and I have a personal relationship that’s not based on color. And to even go down this direction is wrong, Mr. Chairman.”
Cummings thanked Meadows for his remarks and said “If there’s anyone who is sensitive with regard to race, it’s me, son of former sharecroppers that were basically slaves. So I, I get it.”
“I listened very carefully to Ms. Tlaib and I think – and I’m not gonna put words in her mouth – but I think she said that she was not calling you a racist,” Cummings said to Meadows.
“And I thought 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 know that shocks a lot of people,” added Cummings.
“And likewise, Mr. Chairman,” replied Meadows.
“Yeah, and because you are,” said Cummings.
“I could see and feel your pain,” Cummings said. “I feel it. And so, and I don’t think Ms. Tlaib intended to cause you that, that kind of pain and that kind of frustration.”
Tlaib then delivered what might be considered a back-handed apology.
“I do apologize if that’s what it sounded like, but I said someone in general, and as everyone knows in this chamber I’m pretty direct so I, if I wanted to say that I would’ve, but that’s not what I said.”
Watch the full exchange beginning at 4:47:34:
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A.P. Dillon is the North Carolina Bureau Chief for The Tennesee Star and a reporter at Battleground State News. Follow A.P. Dillon on Twitter. Email Tips to [email protected].
Photo “Michael Cohen Hearing” by PBS NewsHour.