US Republican Representative from North Carolina Mark Meadows speaks to reporters after a meeting of the House Freedom Caucus to discuss the healthcare bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2017.
Mark Meadows: Neither Cummings nor Trump is racist
01:14 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina praised both President Donald Trump and Meadows’ friend Rep. Elijah Cummings on Monday after the President targeted the Maryland Democrat with attacks on his character and home district over the weekend.

Meadows – who had been cast into the middle of the fray between Trump and Cummings due to his close relationship with both men – made his remarks in a text message sent to CNN political commentator Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, who read the message Monday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

Santorum said Meadows had given him permission to read the message publicly.

“No one works harder for his district than Elijah,” Meadows said in the text message. “He’s passionate about the people he represents, and no, Elijah is not a racist. I’m friends with both President Trump and Chairman Cummings. I know them both well and neither is a racist.”

On Saturday, Trump had lashed out at Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman, who had recently lambasted conditions at the border. Trump suggested that conditions in Cummings’ district, which is majority black and includes parts of Baltimore, are “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than those at the US-Mexico border and called it a “very dangerous & filthy place.”

Santorum said Meadows also offered to go to Baltimore with Trump to evaluate the city.

Earlier this year Cummings came to the defense of Meadows after Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, appeared to accuse him of what she called a “racist” act of using a black woman as a “prop” to disprove allegations of racism against Trump.

“You’re one of my best friends. I know that shocks a lot of people,” Cummings said of Meadows after the incident.

“And likewise Mr. Chairman,” Meadows responded.

Trump has recently attacked minority lawmakers and leaders in an effort to define the Democratic Party while strengthening his base ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

CNN’s Devan Cole contributed to this report.