Meadows on Trump, Cummings spat: 'Neither man is a racist'

Meadows on Trump, Cummings spat: 'Neither man is a racist'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan GOP struggles with retirement wave Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE (R-N.C.) is refusing to take sides in an ugly war of words between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE and the powerful House Oversight Committee chairman, Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Top Oversight Democrat demands immigration brass testify Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4,000 at Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland MORE, declaring that “neither man is a racist.”

“I am friends with both men, President Trump and Chairman Cummings. I know both men well. Neither man is a racist. Period. Both love America,” Meadows said Monday in a statement. 

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“I think if we put aside partisanship with investigations we can find bipartisan solutions that will benefit not only Chairman Cummings’ district but the country as a whole. I’m committed to working to that end with both of them.”

Meadows, the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, is close with both men, and was put in an awkward position when, over the weekend, Trump attacked Cummings (D-Md.) and his Baltimore congressional district, calling it “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” 

It was a response to Cummings’s vocal criticism of the conditions in migrant detention facilities on the U.S.-Mexico border, and Trump argued that the situation in Baltimore was "FAR WORSE and more dangerous." 

Cummings’s allies denounced the attacks as racist given that Cummings and the majority of his constituents are African American. Trump responded with a tweet stating that Cummings, a longtime civil-rights leader and the son of sharecroppers, was “racist” himself and should spend more time trying to improve Baltimore.

 

Meadows’s response fell short of what Democrats had hoped to hear from him: a direct rebuke of Trump. But few Republicans have been willing to confront the volatile and often-vindictive president. 

At an Oversight Committee hearing in February, Cummings rushed to the defense of Meadows after progressive freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mich.) accused the Freedom Caucus chairman of carrying out a “racist” act by bringing an African American female Trump official to the hearing as a “prop” to demonstrate that the president was not racist.

“Of all the people on this committee — I've said it and got in trouble for it — that you're one of my best friends,” Cummings told Meadows in an emotional exchange. “I know that shocks a lot of people.”

“And likewise, Mr. Chairman,” Meadows replied.