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Tlaib and Meadows accused each other of ‘racist’ stunts. Later, they hugged on the House floor.

Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) embraced on the House floor on Feb. 28, a day after the two clashed at a hearing. (Video: CSPAN)

One of the most contentious exchanges at the House’s Michael Cohen hearing on Wednesday didn’t actually come from Cohen.

When Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) brought Lynne Patton, a black woman who has worked for the Trump Organization and now the Trump administration, to stand behind him at the hearing, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) accused him of using a “racist” tactic to undercut Cohen’s assertion that Trump was prejudiced against African Americans.

“That someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself,” Tlaib said.

Meadows was furious at the allegation, and countered that “to indicate...that she’s coming in to be a prop, it’s racist to suggest that I ask her to come in here for that reason!”

But by Thursday, the two were hugging it out on the House floor, a moment that made headlines. But that doesn’t mean they agree. They’re just being more cordial about the disagreement.

The Post’s Paul Kane reported that the reconciliation (of sorts) was prompted in part by efforts by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to smooth things over.

Cummings and Meadows have almost nothing in common — except a friendship

Cummings negotiated a calm finish that kept the focus of the hearing on Cohen’s allegations against Trump.
By Thursday morning, as House votes ended for the week, Meadows left his usual seat near the center aisle to approach Tlaib.
“I went over to her and said, ‘Listen, thank you for the gracious way that you handled it.’ And I just wanted her to know that there is no animosity or hard feelings at all, she said the same, and it was just a very good moment,” Meadows told reporters afterward.
The two lawmakers hugged and spoke for a few minutes, their first real conversation ever.
The detente might never have happened if not for Cummings and his unique friendship with Meadows

On Thursday night, Tlaib allowed to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that “it was really thoughtful of [Meadows] to come up to me and thank me that way,” but insisted, “I really do stand by” her accusation that bringing Patton to combat claims of Trump’s prejudice was racist.

“For me, at that moment, watching this young woman stand up behind Congressman Meadows in that way was very hurtful, and it was very disrespectful,” she said.

Rashida Tlaib vowed to fight for her district. Her constituents wonder if she's sending the right message.

In an interview that same night with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Meadows continued to assert, “I know that I’m not a racist."

Though Ingram took a more combative approach, saying Tlaib was an “outrage,” Meadows continued to downplay the exchange.

“We’re in a civil society,” he told Ingraham. “I just felt compelled to go down and offer a hand of friendship and say, ‘Listen, if there was anything that I did that personally offended you, it didn’t come from my heart.’”

“She hugged me, and certainly we looked at moving forward to hopefully work in a respectful way,” he said.

Videos of Mark Meadows saying ‘send Obama home to Kenya’ resurface hours after he’s accused of racist stunt

By the end of the interview, Ingraham was calling the hug a “kumbaya moment.” But in reality, it just put a more “civil” face on an ongoing disagreement. Neither Meadows or Tlaib have said their assertions are wrong, in fact, they continued to repeat them on Thursday even after their brief talk on the House floor.

Liberals and conservatives will continue to have acrimonious debates whether president Trump is racist, and Tlaib, who has spoken forcefully against Trump in the past, is not likely to back down on her beliefs. And a Republican who heads the House Freedom Caucus and was one of several lawmakers defending him against Cohen this week is not going to suddenly see the President’s words and actions as racist.

It’s a sign of just how intense political polarization has become in Congress that even disagreeing nicely can be seen as a bipartisan gesture worthy of making headlines.

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