WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, temporarily disrupted a congressional hearing Wednesday afternoon when she said she believed a Republican colleague’s actions during testimony by Michael Cohen were racist.
Tlaib, who is a Palestinian-American, said as a person of color she was offended when U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, brought out Lynne Patton, a former event planner for President Donald Trump’s family and now an official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as proof the president is not racist.
Meadows introduced Patton, who is African-American, in the committee room after Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer, testified that he believed the president was a racist.
Tlaib, after questioning Cohen hours after Meadows’ comments, said she thought it was “insensitive … that someone would actually use (as) a prop a black woman in this chamber” and said such an act “is alone racist in itself.”
The comment set off a tumult in the committee room as Meadows demanded that Tlaib’s remarks be stricken and the chairman, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, asked Tlaib to clarify her remarks.
She did so, saying that she was “not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist” but that she felt his act was racist.
“I am trying as a person of color just to express myself and how I felt at that moment,” she said. “And so, just for the record, that’s what was my intention.”
Meadows defended himself saying his nieces and nephews are people of color and that he only invited Patton because she is a friend of the Trump family and felt that Trump was being unfairly maligned by Cohen, his former lawyer.
Earlier in the hearing, another Michigan congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, scolded Meadows as well for suggesting that just because Trump has employed Patton that he may not be racist.
“To prop up one member of our entire race … and say that nullifies it is totally insulting,” said Lawrence. “To look at his administration speaks volumes.”
Trump has been accused of making insensitive remarks toward African-Americans in the past and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is the only black member of his Cabinet.
During his testimony, Cohen said Trump has courted the favor of white supremacists and bigots and that, during one drive-through of a poor neighborhood in Chicago, Trump “commented that only black people could live that way.”
Cohen also said that Trump once told him that “black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”
Cohen, who will soon begin a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to financial crimes and lying to Congress, told the committee that Trump personally reimbursed him for hush-money paid to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and that he was indirectly encouraged to lie about a possible Trump Tower development in Moscow.
Republicans on the committee blasted Cohen, saying he has lied to Congress in the past and is an unreliable witness.
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