WASHINGTON – After Rep. Mark Meadows defended himself against allegations of racism during a House committee meeting Wednesday, critics resurfaced two 2012 videos of the North Carolina Republican in which he vowed to send then-President Barack Obama “home to Kenya.”
The videos were shared by liberal commentators in response to an exchange between Meadows and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., during a hearing featuring President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen. Meadows invited Lynne Patton – a longtime Trump associate and current Housing and Urban Development official – to the hearing and referred to her while disputing Cohen’s allegation that the president 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. She added that the use of Patton as a political “prop” was “racism in itself.”
Meadows angrily denied the implication of racism and asked for Tlaib’s comment’s to be “stricken from the record.”
“There’s nothing more personal to me than my relationship – my nieces and nephews are people of color. Not many people know that,” Meadows said. He also denied bringing Patton to the hearing as a human “prop” and said, “It’s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in here for that reason.”
‘A racist act’: Rashida Tlaib comments spark debate on racism during Michael Cohen hearing
Patton also bristled at Tlaib’s suggestion. In a statement Wednesday on Facebook, she listed a number of her accomplishments before adding, “That is not the resume of a prop.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., speaks as Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Feb. 27, 2019.Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images
On Wednesday evening, the 2012 videos started to gain steam on social media.
“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.
Critics painted Meadows’ remarks as an endorsement of “birtherism” – a term for the baseless belief that Obama was not born in the U.S. Many have said the effort to deny the citizenship of the first African-American president without evidence was rooted in racism.
The official Twitter account for the anti-Trump Democratic Coalition alleged that “Meadows promotes the racist birther conspiracy theory.”
In a 2012 interview with Roll Call shortly after he made the remarks, Meadows said it was “probably a poor choice of words on my part more than anything else.”
“I believe he’s an American citizen,” Meadows clarified at the time.
Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore said Meadows was racist in a tweet linking to the video.
“The day of the angry, racist, white man is soon going to be a thing of the past, farewell,” Moore added.
“I wonder how Rep Meadows rationalizes his ‘I’m not racist’ stance with his questioning the legitimacy of America’s first Black President b/c ‘he was born in Kenya or wherever he’s from’ stance?” wondered human rights activist Qasim Rashid.
Meadows’ office did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
The congressman had expressed interest in taking over for John Kelly as Trump’s chief of staff, but ultimately fell out of the race.
Tlaib said she stood by her assertion that the act of bringing Patton was racist but she said she was sorry if her comments appeared to indicate that she thought Meadows himself was a racist.