An MSNBC guest said Lynne Patton, an African-American woman who serves as a top official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, looked like "she was on the auction block" while standing behind Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) during Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
The panel was discussing a heated exchange between Meadows and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), in which the freshman Democrat accused Meadows of racism for bringing her to the hearing. Meadows brought Patton to the hearing to push back against Cohen's narrative that President Donald Trump is a racist. Tlaib suggested Meadows was using Patton as a "prop," saying, "the fact someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee is alone racist in itself."
Tlaib eventually apologized and said she did not mean to call Meadows a racist.
Sophia Nelson, a political strategist who once served as GOP counsel for the House Oversight Committee, lamented Patton's decision to appear with Meadows.
"To bring a black woman out, shame on Lynn first of all for agreeing to do it, but to bring a black woman out and to have her stand there like she was on the auction block ... And she couldn't talk, she couldn't speak, you couldn't swear her in. And there's this visual 'Exhibit A,' American people: 'there's a black person here and we have a black person who can't tell you what she thinks, we'll tell you how she feels, and that will prove that Donald Trump is not a racist.' [It] is the most ridiculous, ludicrous thing I've seen the Republican Party do in a really long time and that's saying a lot," Nelson said.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski said Tlaib should not have apologized.
"I feel the wrong person apologized and I really, really, really am uncomfortable when women apologize when they didn't do anything wrong, when they were just speaking their mind, when they were speaking their truth. And when something that you just described happened actually happened. I think the wrong person apologized, and if Mark Meadows wasn't acting and wasn't feeling racist in his heart, he has to understand how he made people feel in that moment," Brzezinski said.
"He cried, and then he forced an apology out of Rashida Tlaib. The whole thing felt extremely dysfunctional," Brzezinski continued.
Nelson agreed, saying Tlaib "shouldn't have apologized to anybody for anything she said because she didn't say anything wrong."
After the exchange between Meadows and Tlaib, Patton slammed the Michigan Democrat on Instagram.
"Today a race card was played," Patton wrote. "But not by Congressman Mark Meadows. But rather by those on the House Oversight Committee who sadly placed more credence on the word of a self-confessed convicted perjurer, than that of a highly-educated black woman who rose up the ranks of one of the most recognized global real-estate companies in the world, spoke before 25 million people at the Republican National Convention and now successfully oversees the largest HUD program office in the country.
"That is not the resume of a prop," Patton continued.