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Tlaib on clash with Meadows: 'Important for me to speak truth to power'

The Hill logo The Hill 2/28/2019 Brett Samuels
a group of people standing in a room: Tlaib on clash with Meadows: 'Important for me to speak truth to power' © Greg Nash Tlaib on clash with Meadows: 'Important for me to speak truth to power' Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Thursday said that she meant no disrespect to Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton when she accused Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) of using her as a "prop" to rebut Michael Cohen's allegations that President Trump is a racist but said she felt she had to speak out about the situation.

The freshman Democrat said on CNN's "New Day" that she wants conversations about race to be "thoughtful and constructive," and not done in a way "that's very dramatic."

She added of Patton, "No disrespect to her, just to have her stand there saying nothing and saying look he's not a racist, I was still taken aback and still to this day was like that was not the way to do it."

"At that moment it was important for me to speak truth to power," Tlaib said. "It was important for me to speak out against that action that I thought was very hurtful and very painful for many of us sitting int hat committee room."

Tlaib reiterated that she was not calling Meadows a racist, adding that she felt the exchange was a "teachable moment."

One of the more tense moments of Wednesday's hearing with Cohen before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform came when Tlaib accused Meadows of engaging in a "racist act" by bringing Patton to stand behind him as he questioned the longtime Trump associate.

Cohen said in his testimony that Trump is a racist, and alleged he had made disparaging remarks about African Americans. Meadows later said Patton refuted his claims.

"Just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them does not mean that they aren't racist," Tlaib said at the hearing.

Meadows immediately responded to Tlaib, asking that her comments be stricken from the record as he believed it was an attack on him and causing an uproar among committee members.

Tlaib repeated her comments and clarified that she wasn't accusing Meadows of being a racist but that she believed it was a "racist act" to bring a black woman to the hearing to counter allegations of racism against Trump.

Patton has stood by her support of Trump and pushed back against criticism of her decision to appear at Wednesday's hearing. She lamented in an Instagram post that some appeared to believe Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, over her.

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