Lynne Patton defends Trump from Cohen racism charge

Lynne Patton, a longtime associate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE now working for his administration, says her boss is not a racist and that Michael Cohen is lying about him.

“Michael Cohen knows I know the truth and the truth is that it doesn’t take 15 years to realize somebody is a racist, unless of course, they are not,” Patton, who is black, told Hill.TV in the hallway outside the House Oversight hearing room Wednesday.

Patton was a surprise guest of Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week Democrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.) at the hearing. Meadows sought to use Patton to show that Cohen was not telling the truth about racist speech he said the president had used.

Cohen, who works at the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department and said he has known Cohen and Trump for “10 plus” years, attended the highly-publicized hearing in her “personal capacity and on personal time.”

She said she believed Cohen was testifying to the panel to “try to get a reduced sentence.” Cohen is set to being a three-year sentence in May.

Before serving as regional administrator for HUD based in the New York area, Patton worked for the Trump organization in various roles, including as an event planner and the head of the Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpEric Trump promotes Trump wine as Sondland testifies: 'Perfect day for a nice bottle of this' Resistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family The Memo: Debate over style vs. substance shadows impeachment hearings MORE Foundation. She gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

After Cohen described Trump as a racist in his testimony, Meadows introduced Patton and said she did not agree with him.

“She says as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Ala. that there is no way that she would work for an individual who was a racist,” and asked Cohen how he would reconcile her recollections with his own.

Cohen dodged the question, saying he should also not work for a racist “as the son of a Holocaust survivor.”

Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson explained Patton's invitation to the hearing in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

“We invited Lynne in her personal capacity to offer her experiences as someone who has known both Mr. Cohen and the Trump family for many years. We felt it was important for the committee to hear an account from someone not going to prison for lying to Congress, among other crimes,” Williamson tweeted.

—Molly K. Hooper