Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib sparked controversy on Wednesday when she suggested Republican Mark Meadows was “racist” for asking Trump administration official Lynne Patton, who is African American, to refute Michael Cohen’s claim that his former employer Donald Trump is a racist.
“Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist,” Tlaib said Sunday, in comments clearly referencing Patton’s appearance at the hearing. “And it is insensitive, and… the fact that someone would use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee [pausing to sigh] is alone racist in itself.”
Tlaib was met with a strong rebuke, not only from Meadows — who countered that “it’s racist to suggest that I asked [Patton] to come in here for that reason” — but from fellow Democrat and House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings (partial transcript below). Here’s video of the moment via CNN:
Though Tlaib temporarily backtracked at the hearing after getting pushback from Meadows and Cummings, she has since appeared on television doubling down on her comments and suggesting that it was “hurtful” to her for Meadows to invite a black woman to vouch for Trump.
Speaking to MSNBC about her much-criticized comments, Tlaib said she “really” does “stand by” her argument that it is “racist” to use a black woman as “a prop,” thus refusing to accept the idea that Patton was there willingly and even, as Patton has emphasized since, enthusiastically.
Tlaib went on to describe Patton’s presence as “hurtful” and “very disrespectful” to her. “I wanted to be heard and seen, and for me … watching this young woman stand up behind Congressman Meadows in that way was very hurtful and it was very disrespectful,” she told the network.
Patton has also had a chance to reply to Tlaib’s instantly infamous comments on Wednesday. In an appearance on Fox News Thursday, Patton, asked if she was “a prop” or “a token,” responded with a loaded question for the radical left congresswoman.
“You know, what I’d like to ask the Congresswoman from Michigan is, you know, why does she take the word of a self-confessed perjurer and criminally convicted white man over a black female who’s highly educated, rose up through the ranks of one of the most competitive companies in real estate, spoke before 25 million people at the Republican National Convention, and now works in one of the most historic administrations in history?” asked Patton. “So to me, that would be my question. That’s more racist than being put up there as a quote-unquote ‘prop.'”
Asked if she accepts Tlaib’s initial apology, Patton said, “Well, she hasn’t apologized to me.”
Video below via Fox News (h/t Ed Morrissey):
Below is a partial transcript of the tense exchange between Tlaib and Meadows during the hearing Wednesday:
Tlaib: Just to make a note Mr. Chairman, just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them, does not mean they aren’t racist and it is insensitive that some would even say it’s the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber in this committee is alone racist in itself. Donald Trump is setting–
Meadows: Mr. Chairman I ask that her words be taken down
Tlaib: I reclaim my time. Donald Trump is setting a precedent that the highest office can be—
Meadows: Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, the rules are clear.
Tlaib: …cover up and hold on to business assets to break campaign finance laws and constitutional clauses what we have here, Mr. chairman is criminal conduct and the pursuit of the highest public office by Mr. Cohen and individual one. I hope that the gravity of this situation hits everyone in this body, in Congress and across this country. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield the rest of my time.
Meadows: Mr. Chairman, I asked that her words, when she’s referring to an individual member of this body, be taken down and stricken from the record. 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.
Cummings: Excuse me would you like to rephrase that statement, Mrs. Tlaib.
Tlaib: Thank you, Mr. chairman. I can actually read it from here. 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 and it is insensitive that someone would even say racist they say it is racist in itself and to use a black woman as a prop to move to prove it otherwise and I can submit this for the record. If a colleague is thinking that that’s what I’m saying, I’m just saying that’s what I believed to have happened and if as a person of color in this committee that’s how I felt at that moment and I wanted to express that. But I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows a racist…so I’m saying that in itself it is a racist act.
Meadows: Well I hope not Mr. Chairman because I need to be clear on this particular… Mr. Chairman.
Cummings: Mr. Meadows ,wait a minute.
Meadows: I’ve defended you and false—
Cummings: Mr. Meadows, I’m the chair!
Meadows: Yes sir, you are.
Cummings: I will clear this up. Now, Mrs. Tlaib, I want to make sure I understand, you did not, you were not intending to call Mr. Meadows or racist, is that right?
Tlaib: No, Mr. Chairman, I do not call Mr. Meadows a racist. I am trying as a person of color Mr. Chairman just to express myself and how I felt at that moment and so just for the record that’s what was my intention.
Meadows: 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 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. Mr. President the president’s own person, she’s a family member and she loves this family, she came in because she felt like the President of the United States was getting falsely accused.