Congressional Black Caucus defend Maxine Waters amid Trump feud

"There’s no place for this, she obviously should apologize," Paul Ryan said.

June 26, 2018, 8:15 PM

The Congressional Black Caucus is coming to California Rep. Maxine Waters' defense amid her ongoing feud with President Trump after she called on opponents of the president to confront members of his Cabinet in public places.

On Monday, Trump tweeted that Waters had called for harm on Trump supporters.

"She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!" he tweeted.

But the Congressional Black Caucus says Trump's characterization of Waters' remarks are a misrepresentation.

“In exercising her constitutional right to freedom of speech at a recent rally, Congresswoman Waters did not, as she has made clear, encourage violence, like President Trump has been doing since the election. She, instead, encouraged Americans to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly by letting President Trump and members of his Administration know that separating young immigrant children from their parents is not who we are as a country," said Congressman Cedric Richmond, chairman of the CBC in a statement.

Richmond instead pointed to Trump's own language insinuating violence on the campaign trail.

“We cannot forget that President Trump, as a candidate, encouraged his supporters to beat up his detractors at rallies, and, as president, morally equated white supremacists with anti-racist activists and encouraged police officers to beat up suspects. In fact, almost every day President Trump says something that makes this country more dangerous for people who look like Congresswoman Waters and other minorities. Where is the national conversation on civility in these moments?" Richmond said.

Waters herself is calling out Trump for perpetuating what she calls "lies."

“Trump is the one who is creating lies,” Waters told reporters on Capitol Hill Monday. “Trying to have people believe that I talked about harming people. There’s nowhere in my statement, anytime, anyplace that we talked about harm.”

"As a matter of fact, President Trump calls for more violence than anybody else," Waters said during an interview with MSNBC, going on to read off several statements Trump made on the campaign trail highlighting his tone of violence against protesters at his rallies.

"I'd like to punch him in the face... maybe he should have been roughed up. Try not to hurt him, but if you do, I'll defend you in court, don't worry about it," Waters said, quoting Trump.

"Now if that's not creating violence and supporting violence, what is?" Waters said to MSNBC host Chris Hayes. "I've said nothing like that. I've talked about peaceful protests."

On Monday, Trump took their feud a step further, and dubbed her as the "face of the Democrats."

House Speaker Paul Ryan also called on Waters to apologize for her remarks.

“There’s no place for this, she obviously should apologize,” Ryan said Tuesday at a press conference.

“That we should resort to violence, harassment and intimidation? That’s dangerous for our democracy,” he said.

Waters, a California Democrat, called on her supporters at a rally on Saturday to confront Trump Cabinet officials in public spaces like restaurants and department stores to protest the administration's policies.

"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she said.

Waters’ call to action came on the heels of widespread outrage over the Trump administration's policy of forcibly separating migrant families who illegally cross the southern border from Mexico.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, June 22, 2018.
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, June 22, 2018.
Evan Vucci/AP

Trump signed an executive order last week to end the practice of separating migrant families. But officials say well over a thousand children remain apart from their parents, and many continue to criticize the president's "zero tolerance" approach to illegal immigration.

Democrats in the House and Senate have largely condemned Waters’ remarks.

On Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted a subtle rebuke aimed at her Democratic House colleague.

“In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea,” Pelosi tweeted.

The Senate’s top Democrat Chuck Schumer said Waters' call for the “harassment of political opponents” was “not American.”

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have introduced a resolution calling for Waters to apologize and resign.

The resolution, authored by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, claims that Waters’ statements could “directly and unnecessarily lead to public unrest, physical violence, and physical injury” and that members of the administration have already been harassed in public.

The resolution says that Waters’ comments “are in direct conflict with the reputation of the United States as a nation where individuals have a right to debate their differences civilly, without fear of physical retribution.”

And it said she should resign so "an individual more befitting of the respect of the people of the United States" could represent her district.

On CNN Monday night, Antonio Sabato Jr., an actor and California Congressional candidate called for Waters' imprisonment.

"Promoting hate and division and actually attacking the administration or anybody who's involved with this administration. That's unheard-of. She should be put behind bars and throw away the key," Sabato said.

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