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Truthdig, February 28, 2019

President Trump’s former personal lawyer on Wednesday delivered to Congress, as Michael Shear writes in The New York Times, “a searing portrait … of a lying, cheating, racist president who used money and threats to conceal immoral and illegal behavior.” But the most dramatic moment in Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee may have occurred when Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., accused Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., of using Lynne Patton, a black Trump administration official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development—who attended as Meadows’ guest—“as a prop,” and orchestrating a racist stunt.

As Colby Itkowitz writes in The Washington Post’s The Fix blog, Meadows “exploded” at the accusation, and was “almost near tears,” believing that Tlaib had accused him of not only performing a racist act, but of being racist himself. Reverberations from the conflict continued hours after the Cohen hearings, when Steve Morris, from the left-leaning media watchdog organization Media Matters, posted a video on Twitter of Meadows telling voters that “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is” in front of a Tea Party Express bus.

As Itkowitz points out, Meadows made these remarks in the midst of Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, when Donald Trump, who was then still a real estate developer and reality television star, dropped his first bid for the presidency, and instead “decided to expend his energy finding Obama’s passport and college records” and advancing the “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. That conspiracy, Itkowitz continues, “is what first endeared Trump to a subset of voters who wanted to believe that it was true.”

More videos surfaced hours later, including footage from a 2012 Tea Party forum, when then-candidate Meadows again used the line about Obama possibly being from Kenya. In an interview shortly after, Meadows told Roll Call, “I think it’s a non-issue,” adding, “Obviously bringing it back is probably a poor choice of words on my part more than anything else. I believe he’s an American citizen and I believe, in my district, he is going to lose overwhelmingly.”

During the forum, an attendee asked the candidates whether, if elected, they would pursue investigative action to determine Obama’s birthplace. Meadows answered, “yes,” before pausing for laughter and continuing, as Roll Call reported: “You know, I see it as, if we do our job, from a grassroots standpoint, we won’t have to worry about it. … You know what? We’ll send him back home to Kenya or wherever it is. We’ll send him back home.”

The full video of the forum is above, with the question at 1:08:45 and Meadows’ answer at 1:11:25.