Tlaib Doubles Down on Calling Out Meadows for ‘Racist’ Act

Lawmakers made up after their tense exchange at Cohen hearing, but Democrat isn't sorry she confronted her colleague

Image Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images & MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) isn’t sorry she accused Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) of committing a racist act after CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota pressed her Thursday on her incredibly awkward spat with Meadows during Michael Cohen’s public hearing on Wednesday.

Cohen, who found himself in special counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs, testified publicly before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Cohen’s already pleaded guilty to charges of lying to Congress about his business dealings with Russia and the Trump Organization during the 2016 campaign. His three-year prison sentence will begin in May.

The former attorney claimed Trump directed him to violate federal campaign finance laws by making hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. Cohen also called Trump a racist. The president has denied these allegations.

Related: House Republicans Call for Perjury Investigation Against Cohen

During her questioning of Cohen, Tlaib (pictured above right) made known her feelings about Meadows’ guest at the hearing, Lynne Patton.

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Patton is a longtime Trump Organization employee who now serves as a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) staffer. Meadows brought her as his guest to the hearing and pointed to her as an example of African-Americans thriving in Trump’s business and administration.

But Tlaib derailed the Cohen hearing when she accused Meadows of racism in bringing Patton as a “prop.”

“Just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them, does not mean they aren’t racist,” Tlaib said. “And it is insensitive, and some would even say that the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”

An outraged Meadows immediately fired back and demanded that that portion of her statement be stricken from the record.

“My nieces and nephews are people of color. Not many people know that,” 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 ask her to come in here for that reason.”

House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) became involved — and he ultimately defended Meadows, whom he called one of his “best friends” on the committee.

After Cummings asked her to explain her remarks, Tlaib backtracked, awkwardly insisting she did not mean to call Meadows a racist.

“As everybody knows in this chamber, I’m pretty direct, so if I wanted to say that, I would have,” Tlaib said, noting that she did not use Meadows’ name. “But that’s not what I said.”

Related: Ocasio-Cortez Basks in the Limelight of Grilling Cohen on Trump’s Finances

Tlaib appeared Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.” Camerota claimed there “were people at home that felt that that was tone-deaf and insensitive of Congressman Mark Meadows” to invite Patton.

“You certainly were not alone in that feeling and so why did you apologize to him?” Camerota asked. “So do you regret apologizing to Congressman Meadows?”

Tlaib told Camerota that she “apologized if I made him feel like a racist,” but called his decision to invite Patton “insensitive,” noting that it was “important for me to speak truth to power” about Meadows’ “very hurtful and very painful” actions.

Camerota also brought up a 2012 video of Meadows in which he made a comment about sending former President Barack Obama “home to Kenya or wherever it is.”

“I’m interested in whether or not you can separate a racist statement or a racist act from the person. And case in point, in 2012, you know, Congressman Mark Meadows engaged in the birtherism talk, where he doubted that President Obama was born here,” Camerota said. “Does seeing that change how you feel about him?”

After Tlaib gave an evasive answer, Camerota asked again, “But just to be clear, you still today feel that he is not racist?”

Tlaib replied, “Look, I feel like the act was. That’s up to the American people to decide whether or not he is.”

Although Tlaib wasn’t sorry about confronting Meadows during the hearing, the two reportedly “hugged on [the] House floor and are engaged in a long, cordial talk” later on Thursday, according to The Washington Post’s Paul Kane.

Meadows told reporters later, “She said she didn’t mean it yesterday, so there was no need to apologize.”

“I wanted her to know and she wanted me to know that our relationship is one that will hopefully provide real good results going forward,” Meadows added. “I certainly respect the fact that she is representing 750,000 people, just like I am. And so it’s important for all 435 of us to show respect and civility to each other, regardless of our differences on policy.”

Check out more in the video below:

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