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."
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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."
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."
"We'll send him back to Kenya, or wherever it is," GOP Rep Mark Meadows said about President Obama, while laughing hard. This is the second video to surface today where Meadows promotes the racist birther conspiracy theory. Uncovered by @TheDemCoalition. pic.twitter.com/USxMc8U98F
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) February 28, 2019
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.
Yeah, Mr. Meadows, you’re an effin’ racist. Get it all out of your system bro because a country like ours which is nearly 70% female, people-of-color and/or young adults is taking power—and the day of the angry, racist, white man is soon going to be a thing of the past, farewell. https://t.co/gyi4mHzfhh
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 27, 2019
"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.
In related news, 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?🤔pic.twitter.com/8B7F591EcB
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) February 27, 2019
Wow, it’s almost as if Mark Meadows didn’t spend 2012 repeatedly saying he wanted to send America’s last popularly elected president “back to Kenya” https://t.co/MIkBtvyusy
— David Beard (@dabeard) February 28, 2019
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.
Here are some other responses on Twitter to the videos of Meadows' past remarks.
Here he is AGAIN, in 2012, when @RepMarkMeadows was asked if he would confront Obama over not being born in the United States, he said "We will send him (Obama) back home to Kenya or wherever it is."
Yes @MarkMeadows - you are a racist and have been for a long time. pic.twitter.com/L8w8QXFF7N
— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 28, 2019
Here’s clear proof Mark Meadows is racist. He once said "In 2012, we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is.” Racist. pic.twitter.com/qzakBiDBlZ
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 28, 2019
Mark Meadows 2012: Send Obama home to Kenya or wherever he’s from
Mark Meadows 2019: How dare you call me racist? I’m gonna hold my breath and grandstand disingenuously until you apologize.
— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) February 28, 2019
So Mark Meadows didn’t just say it once. Here he is another time saying he wants to send President Obama back to Kenya. But he has a black friend, so we all know he can’t be racist. https://t.co/MDcZEj0ZOn
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 28, 2019
MARK MEADOWS? Racist?
But he just reluctantly ‘admitted’ he has black nieces and nephews.
How can he be racist? pic.twitter.com/fAmpcQJsEH
— Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (@ASE) February 28, 2019
Contributing: Ryan W. Miller
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: After denying racism, videos of Meadows vowing to send Obama 'home to Kenya' resurface