Republican representative Mark Meadows defended himself from allegations of racism this week, one day after his testy argument over race erupted during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing for former Trump campaign fixer Michael Cohen.
The day after Mr Meadows was accused of committing a “racist act” during Cohen’s testimony, an unearthed video from 2012 features the North Carolina Republican saying he wanted then-President Barack Obama to go back “home to Kenya.”
“Anyone who knows me knows that there is not a racial bone in my body,” Mr Meadows told CNN, in defence of the documented racist remarks.“It was early on in a primary and certainly didn’t indicate any personal malice that I would have toward any president.”
In the resurfaced video, Mr Meadows is seen speaking to a crowd while campaigning for his congressional seat. He told his supporters he wanted to “take back our country.”
“What we’re going to do is take back our country; 2012 is the time that we’re going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is,” Mr Meadows said in the video.
After being caught in multiple racist incidents, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) pulls out the old “not a racial bone in my body” line. pic.twitter.com/rhohShISdb— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin)February 28, 2019
The video was widely-circulated on social media after Mr Meadows’ heated exchange with Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib during Cohen’s bombshell congressional testimony.
In the hearing, Mr Meadows argued the president is not a racist since he has an African-American woman, Lynne Patton, a high-ranking official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, supporting and working in his administration.
Ms Tlaib said the GOP lawmaker’s use of Ms Patton, a woman of colour, as proof— or prop—that the president is not racist “is alone racist in itself.”
“Just because someone has a person of colour, a black person working for them does not mean that they aren’t racist,” Ms Tlaib said at the hearing. “And it is insensitive [...] the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”
The Michigan Democrat’s comments struck a nerve with Mr Meadows, who had asked her statement be stricken from the record.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI): "Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren't racist and...the fact someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself." pic.twitter.com/k0ysrj5cKm— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews)February 27, 2019
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl)February 28, 2019
“To indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family, who has worked for him, who has worked for this particulate individual … that’s she’s coming in to be a prop, it’s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in for that reason,” Mr Meadows said.
It should be noted that having friends or family members who identify as a person of colour does not prevent anyone from being racist or committing racist acts.