(CNSNews.com) – Hours after equivocally apologizing to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and saying she was not calling him a racist, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) “liked” a tweet that essentially described Meadows as an example of “white privilege and white fragility.”
Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing involving President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen featured heated words after Tlaib accused “someone” of bringing a Trump-supporting black woman along to the hearing as a “prop” – an act she said was “racist in itself.”
Meadows had invited Lynne Patton, an African-American Trump family friend now working at the Department of Housing and Development, and challenged Cohen’s depiction of Trump as a racist, saying that there was no way that Patton “would work for an individual who's a racist.”
Stung by Tlaib’s insinuation, Meadows sought to have her remarks stricken from the record. After intervention from committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and some toing and froing, Tlaib made an apology of sorts.
“That was not my intention [to call Meadows a racist] and I do apologize if that’s what it sounded like – but I said ‘someone’ in general. And as everybody knows in this chamber I’m pretty direct so if I wanted to say that, I would have.”
“But that’s not what I said, and thank you Mr. Chairman for allowing me to clarify,” Tlaib continued. “But, again, I said ‘someone’ and, again, that was not referring to you [Meadows] at all as a racist.”
Later, social justice activist Deepa Iyer tweeted in response to the Tlaib-Meadows incident.
“Thank you @RashidaTlaib for giving voice to the discomfort and anger that so many of us felt when we saw what Meadows did. This is such a classic example of how white privilege and white fragility prevent us from having honest conversations about race.”
Tlaib then let her 379,000 Twitter followers know that she “liked” Iyer’s tweet.
‘I’m saying it is a racist act’
The exchange in question began when Tlaib said, “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.”
Meadows interjected to protest, but Tlaib pressed on, completing her statement by accusing Cohen and Trump – or “Individual-1” as she refers to him – of “criminal conduct in the pursuit of the highest public office.”
Meadows appealed to Cummings, who asked Tlaib whether she would like to rephrase her statement.
Tlaib instead read the segment again, then said she was just saying how she felt “as a person of color in this committee.”
“But I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist for doing so. I’m saying it is a racist act.”
Meadows retorted that “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.”
He said Patton had attended the hearing “because she felt like the president of the United States was getting falsely accused.”
(In a tweet as the hearing began, Patton said she was attending in a show of support for the president “and in support of the truth, as Michael Cohen (knows that I know) it to be. And the truth is that it doesn’t take you 15 years to call someone a racist. Unless they’re not one.”)
Addressing Cummings directly, Meadows said “you and I have a personal relationship that’s not based on color,” and noted that the chairman was aware that “my nieces and nephews are people of color.”
Cummings weighed in: “If there’s anyone who is sensitive with regard to race, it’s me. Son of former sharecroppers, that were basically slaves. So I get it. I listened very carefully to Ms. Tlaib and I think – and I don’t want to, I’m not going to put words in her mouth, but I think she said that she was not calling you a racist.”
Tlaib then offered her apology.