Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) on Thursday defended her behavior at a congressional hearing the day prior, during which she suggested the actions of a Republican colleague were "racist" but denied she was calling him a racist.
It was a "teachable moment," Tlaib told CNN.
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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former attorney and fixer, accused the president of racism during a House oversight committee hearing on Wednesday. "Mr. Trump is a racist," Cohen said. Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) took action to counter the accusations by inviting Housing and Urban Development administrator Lynne Patton, who is black, to the hearing.
With Patton standing behind him, Meadows explained she denies Trump is racist. Throughout his remarks, Patton nodded in agreement.
Tlaib took exception to Meadows decision to invite Patton, saying the action was "alone racist in itself."
Meadows objected repeatedly to her remarks, asking the committee's chairman to interject and strike Tlaib's personal accusations from the record.
Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) halted the exchange, asking Tlaib to clarify her remarks. She said she was not calling Meadows racist, saying, however, "in itself it is a racist act."
During the Thursday morning interview, Tlaib stood by her comments and her apology. She said she again "apologized if it made him feel like I was calling him a racist."
"If I wanted to [call Meadows a racist], everyone knows this, I'm pretty direct, I would have done that," Tlaib said, repeating part of her defense from Wednesday.
This is not the first time Tlaib has defended her behavior by saying it was a "teachable" moment.
Shortly after her January swearing-in, Tlaib told a crowd of supporters they would "impeach the motherfucker," referring to the president.
After facing backlash for the comments, Tlaib offered the same caricature of contrition. "The use of that language was a teachable moment for me," she told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
CNN host Alisyn Camerota pressed the freshman congresswoman Thursday, asking for more than a "teachable" takeaway. "But just to be clear," Camerota asked, "you still today feel that he is not racist?"
Tlaib avoided a direct answer.
"Look, I feel like the act was," she said. "And that's up to the American people to decide whether or not he is."