Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) admonished Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) for bringing black Department of Housing and Urban Development appointee Lynne Patton to prove President Donald Trump isn’t a bigot without offering Patton time to speak. The congresswoman argued that this echoed the treatment of slaves.
Patton, who was hired as the vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation before joining the president’s administration, raised eyebrows after appearing at the hearing of Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen on Thursday. Meadows brought her before the House oversight committee and pointed to her as a sign of Trump’s inclusivity in an effort to negate Cohen’s description of the commander in chief as a racist. However, the defense didn’t come from Patton, who stood silently behind Meadows the entire time.
“When I looked at that, my heart sunk, my spirit sunk,” Jackson Lee told CNN’s Don Lemon Friday. “I could not get…my mind around the concept of a person standing, not speaking, not being called upon to provide any oral reference to why they were there. That is akin to how the master used to call slaves into the dining room to stand to be there to either show their wealth or to act upon any desire that they may have had.”
Meadow’s surprise guest instantly provoked a response from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who spoke out in the hearing, accusing her colleague of using Patton as “a prop,” and calling the action “racist in itself.”
Shortly after Meadows dismissed Tlaib’s comment, 2012 footage of him resurfaced in which he said former President Barack Obama should go “back home to Kenya or wherever.”
In response, he has since argued that “anyone who knows me knows that there is not a racial bone in my body.”
During a podcast with conservative radio personality Rose Tennent that was published online Friday, Patton defended Meadows and herself.
“I was attacked because I dared to defy the liberal narrative, she said. “The only prop in that room was Michael Cohen for the Democratic party.”