Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Monday that he believes neither President Trump nor Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) is racist, seeking to de-escalate tensions after the president called Cummings’s district a “rat and rodent infested mess” and said “no human being would want to live there.”
“I am friends with both men, President Trump and Chairman Cummings,” Meadows said in a statement. “I know both men well. Neither man is a racist. Period. Both love America.”
Cummings is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has played a leading role in investigating Trump and his administration. Meadows is a member of the committee and is also chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
The two men have struck up an unusual friendship during their time on Capitol Hill; their close relationship was on display during a committee hearing in February, when Cummings stepped in to smooth things out after Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) accused Meadows of pulling a “racist” stunt.
In his statement Monday, Meadows suggested that Cummings’s committee should halt its investigations of Trump, echoing the president’s argument that the Maryland Democrat should instead focus on his district.
“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,” Meadows said. “I’m committed to working to that end with both of them.”
After Trump’s initial attack on Saturday, Cummings responded to the president in a tweet: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
On Sunday, Trump upped his criticism of Cummings, calling the lawmaker “racist” and stating that “his radical ‘oversight’ is a joke!”
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.