HUD official Lynne Patton a surprise guest at Michael Cohen hearing

Lynne Patton, a Trump administration official, was a surprise guest at Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing with Michael Cohen.

Patton sat behind and was introduced by Republican Rep. Mark Meadows during the hearing and stood up when Meadows began his questioning. Meadows presented Patton, an African-American woman, as a refutation of Cohen’s claim that Trump is a “racist.”

Patton is a longtime associate of the Trump family who is now a high-ranking political appointee to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She was introduced to the family by Cohen, and Patton became ingratiated in Trump’s world. She served as vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation. Patton worked as an event planner for the Trump family and planned Eric Trump’s 2014 wedding.

Patton was among the speakers at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and was a surrogate for the Trump campaign. After the election, Patton began working at HUD, taking over as the regional administrator for the New York and New Jersey HUD office in June 2017. Critics of Patton’s appointment at HUD have pointed to her lack of experience in federal housing policy.

Her tenure at HUD has been marked by her outspoken and controversial personal tweets. Patton called White House correspondent April Ryan “Miss Piggy” on Twitter, for which she later apologized.

She also accused CNN of manufacturing coverage of Hurricane Florence and commented approvingly on an Instagram post mocking an alleged sexual assault victim.

Patton’s appearance Wednesday on Capitol Hill appears to be on her own time.

“Lynne is on leave today and is at the hearing in her personal capacity,” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams told CNN. Patton’s office is based in Manhattan.

In a Twitter post Wednesday morning, Patton stated she was there “in support” of President Trump and the truth.

Asked by CNN why Patton was there, Meadows said “she has information.” But Patton did not speak during the hearing or provide that information.

RELATED: Senior HUD official Lynne Patton attempts to clarify controversial social posts

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