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Republican who denied he was racist suggested Obama was born in Africa

Friday March 1, 2019
Jon Swaine

Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, attends the House oversight and reform committee hearing with testimony from Donald Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

A prominent Republican congressman who this week furiously denied being racist has falsely suggested at least twice that Barack Obama was born in Africa.

Mark Meadows promised supporters during the 2012 election campaign that he and Republican colleagues would send Obama home “to Kenya or wherever”.

Meadows, of North Carolina, grew emotional and red-faced on Wednesday when he was accused of carrying out a racist stunt during a congressional hearing.

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He had tried to counter allegations made by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former legal fixer, that Trump was racist by bringing Lynne Patton, a black Trump administration official and Trump family friend, with him to the hearing. Patton has said she does not believe Trump is racist.

Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic congresswoman from Michigan, said later in the hearing that using a black woman as “a prop” was “racist in itself”. Meadows angrily demanded Tlaib withdraw the remark and said he had black relatives and friends. Tlaib said she did not accuse Meadows himself of being racist.

Following the clash, video footage recorded during the 2012 campaign was unearthed in which Meadows dabbled with the racist “birther” conspiracy theory pushed for years by Trump and other Republicans.

Proponents of the theory falsely alleged that Obama, who was born in the US state of Hawaii, was born in Africa and therefore ineligible for the presidency.

During a forum held by the Blue Ridge Tea Party Patriots conservative group on 12 June 2012, Meadows and fellow Republican candidate Vance Patterson were asked if they would investigate Obama’s birthplace.

“Yes,” Meadows responded. He went on to say: “If we do our job from a grassroots perspective, we won’t have to worry about it. We’ll send him back home to Kenya or wherever it is. We’ll send him back home.”

Steve Morris, of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, on Wednesday published a recording of Meadows standing in front of a “Tea Party Express” bus at an event on 9 June 2012.

“What we’re going to do is take back our country,” Meadows said. “2012 is the time that we’re going to send Mr Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is. We’re gonna do it.”

In an interview with Roll Call in 2012, Meadows said he had used a “poor choice of words” and acknowledged that Obama was an American citizen.

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