Michael Cohen’s long-awaited hearing before the House Oversight Committee became combative on Wednesday afternoon — for reasons that had little to do with the content of Cohen’s testimony. Representative Rashida Tlaib, a freshman Democrat from Michigan, objected to former Trump employee Lynne Patton’s unexpected appearance earlier in the hearing; specifically, she said that Patton, a black woman, had been used as “a prop” by Republicans to dispute Cohen’s characterization of President Trump as a racist. The act, Tlaib said, was racist. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, was outraged.
Patton, who now administrates public housing in New Jersey and New York for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, previously worked for Trump as a party planner. In the morning, she stood silently to the side of the dais while Meadows purportedly spoke on her behalf. “Lynne Patton says she would not work for a man who is racist,” Meadows said to Cohen as reported by the Daily Beast. “She disagrees with you.”
“She says as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way that she would work for an individual who was a racist,” he added. “How do you reconcile the two of those?”
No wonder Meadows took Tlaib’s remark so personally. The red-faced congressman demanded that Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings strike Tlaib’s remarks from the record, and claimed that Tlaib herself was the real racist for even making the remark at all. Asked by Cummings to clarify her remarks, Tlaib said that she had not meant to call Meadows a racist, that she applied the term instead to the act of using Patton as a silent witness to Trump’s racially progressive views. Meadows then withdrew his request. Patton’s appearance at the hearing remains somewhat mysterious, however, as she’d reportedly been expected to appear at work as usual this morning. Patton had no real-estate experience before being appointed to HUD by Trump.