Meadows, Tlaib hug after fight over race in Cohen hearing

Associated Press
Rep. Rashida Tlaib

Washington — Two lawmakers who clashed bitterly over race have hugged it out on the House floor.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Democrat Rashida Tlaib of Detroit embraced and chatted for almost a minute Thursday.

"Congressman Mark Meadows came up to me and said that I had been gracious in our exchange yesterday, and we had a conversation about what transpired," Tlaib said in a statement.

"I appreciate his action on the House floor today and look forward to working with all of my colleagues to ensure we are working on behalf of all of our constituents."

It was a striking sight after the pair fought during Michael Cohen’s hearing a day earlier.

There, Meadows tried to rebut the charge by Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, that Trump is a racist. Behind Meadows stood a longtime Trump family friend and employee, Lynne Patton, who is black. Meadows said Patton would not work for anyone racist.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., leads objections to testimony by Michael Cohen.

Tlaib suggested Meadows’ use of Patton as a “prop” was itself racist, but later said she was not accusing Meadows of being a racist.

On Thursday, Meadows approached Tlaib on the House floor and offered a hand. She stood, put a hand over her heart as she spoke to him, and then threw an arm around his shoulders as the two embraced.

“She said she didn’t mean it yesterday, so there was no need to apologize,” Meadows said afterward on Thursday.

The upheaval came at the end of a day-long hearing in which Cohen testified that, among other things, Trump said black people are “too stupid” to vote for him.

Meadows, one of Trump’s staunchest supporters in Congress, said he’s never heard the president say anything racist.

At one point, Patton, who now works at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, stood behind him. Meadows said she would not work for anyone racist. 

Tlaib, the last member to speak, made her remarks about Meadows’ move and the two got into a disagreement over what she meant. Meadows said he has nieces and nephews who are African American.

House Oversight committee Chairman Elijah Cummings got them to settle down and urged Tlaib to clarify that she was not calling Meadows a racist.

The embrace happened after Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox issued a Thursday statement that criticized Tlaib's attack on Meadows.

"Yesterday in a blatant attempt to silence a political opponent, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib made baseless accusations of racism against a fellow member of Congress," Cox said.

"This shameful and slanderous act is sadly another example of how Congresswoman Tlaib would rather impress democratic socialist radicals with inflammatory rhetoric, rather than get something done for the people of Michigan. It’s time that Rashida Tlaib realize that she is now servant of the people and no longer a professional progressive bomb thrower.”

The newly elected Cox should be busy "evaluating the failed policies of her party that have led Michigan in the wrong direction and the harmful rhetoric and actions of the leader of her party, President Donald Trump," Tlaib spokesman Denzel McCampbell said.

"Congresswoman Tlaib is working on behalf of her constituents on issues such as environmental justice with the Green New Deal, health care with Medicare for All, credit scoring in relation to high auto insurance, and much more," McCampbell said.

"She’s doing her job and holding folks accountable, including in her capacity on the House Oversight Committee. Laura Cox should do her job and help Michiganders and stop with the fear-mongering rhetoric." 

The Detroit News contributed