After Rep. Rashida Tlaib strongly implied that North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows was racist during a House Oversight Committee hearing in February, Meadows called on the chair of that committee, his supposed friend Rep. Elijah Cummings, to defend him, which Cummings did.
But now, with Cummings on the receiving end of repeated racist attacks by President Trump, Meadows has been totally silent. (I reached out to Meadows’ office by phone and was told Meadows’ spokesman was unavailable and no one else could field media requests. I’ve emailed and texted that staffer but have yet to hear back; I’ll update this post if I do.)
During that Oversight Committee meeting, Tlaib suggested it was racist for the Republicans to trot out a black longtime Trump staffer to make the case that Trump isn’t racist. Meadows took her testimony as a pointed personal attack and all hell broke loose.
“My nieces and nephews are people of color. Not many people know that. You know that, Mr. Chairman,” Meadows said in the meeting. He continued to address Cummings: “You and I have a relationship that’s not based on color.”
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Cummings stepped in to de-escalate the situation.
“I’ve said it—and gotten in trouble for it—that you’re one of my best friends...I could see and feel your pain,” the Maryland Democrat said. Tlaib went on to clarify to a visible emotional Meadows that she wasn’t specifically calling him “racist.”
With that emotional exchange in the rear view, plenty of people are looking at Meadows, wondering if or when he’ll do his colleague the same courtesy. (He tweeted after Trump’s attacks on Cummings were well underway, but only to praise the president’s new pick for director of National Intelligence.)
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Update, 4:58 p.m. ET: Meadows gave an exceedingly lame statement to Politico’s Jake Sherman, noting that he’s friends with both Trump and Cummings and “neither man is a racist.” It’s odd, because he’s refuting a claim no one was making—that Cummings is racist. Profiles in courage!