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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 MeadowsOvernight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names MORE (R-N.C.) is refusing to take sides in an ugly war of words between President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE and the powerful House Oversight Committee chairman, Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene Cummings'Kamala' and 'Kobe' surge in popularity among baby names Women of color flex political might Black GOP candidate accuses Behar of wearing black face in heated interview 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 TlaibDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations 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.