During the highly anticipated hearing for Michael Cohen, one of the most memorable moments had nothing to do with the president’s former attorney. During a line of questioning, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina pushed back on the claim that Trump is a “racist” by using a Black staffer as a prop.
In Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, he spoke about Trump, saying, “He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat.”
“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a Black person that wasn’t a s---hole. This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States,” Cohen said. “And while we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only Black people could live that way. He told me Black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”
To refute the claims of racism, Meadows, a Republican, invited Lynne Patton, a former Trump Organization employee and now a political appointee in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to stand behind him.
“She says as the daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way she would work for an individual who was racist. How do you reconcile it?” Meadows asked.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Black Michigan Democrat, called Meadows’ use of Patton insulting.
“Having endured the public comments of racism from the sitting president, as being a Black person, I can only imagine what is being said in private. To prop up one member of our entire race of Black people and to say that nullifies that is totally insulting,” she said.
Then Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a first-term Democratic lawmaker from Michigan, criticized Meadows actions.
“The fact that someone would actually use a prop, a Black woman, in this chamber, in this committee is alone racist in itself,” Tlaib said.
Meadows became visibly upset at the characterization and demanded the words be "stricken from the record."
“It’s racist to suggest I asked her to come in for that reason,” Meadows said.
After Meadows demanded the exchange be “stricken from the record” and adamantly denied allegations of racism, videos of him using racist language against then-president Barack Obama resurfaced.
"2012 is the time we're going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is," Meadows said at a June 9, 2012, rally. "We're going to do it!"
Three days later, he made a similar remark at a Tea Party event.
(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)