Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) said on Wednesday that he is not a fan of shouting down or being rude to people when he was asked about the recent incidents of Trump administration officials being harassed.
"I'm not a great fan of shouting down people or being rude to people," Sanders told MSNBC host Kristen Welker. "I think we have a situation and a Congress that's way out of touch with where the American people are. People have a right to be angry when Congress gives tax breaks to billionaires and wants to cut nutrition programs for low income pregnant women. You have to a right to be angry. Take that out in a constructive way."
Several Trump administration officials have been confronted by protestors in recent weeks while out in public. The confrontations have been over the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy that resulted in the separation of migrant children from their parents who enter the country illegally.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted by protesters in a Mexican restaurant near the White House and had to leave. Senior White House Adviser Stephen Miller was yelled at as he ate a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and several family members were at the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia and were asked to leave by the restaurant co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson. When asked why she told Sanders to leave, Wilkinson told the Washington Post that Sanders works for a "inhumane and unethical" administration. The latest incident occurred when Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao was confronted after leaving an event at Georgetown University.
These incidents have sparked a national debate about civility and how citizens should protest the Trump administration or policies they disagree with generally. Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif) encouraged voters to to harass Trump administration officials. Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Schumer criticized Waters' comments.
Welker asked Sanders if he disagreed with Waters' comments.
"Does that mean you disagree with comments by Maxine Waters and you disagree with kicking Sarah Sanders out of a restaurant?" Welker asked.
"I think people have a right to go into a restaurant and have dinner," Sanders said. "That's where we got to place our energy. I do know that people are angry. They are angry about these terribly inhumane immigration policies. They're angry about the fact they can't afford prescription drugs. They are angry about tax breaks that go to billionaires. The way to deal with that is exactly what Alexandria did."
Sanders was referencing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialists of America member who won a Democratic primary against 10-term incumbent New York Rep. Joe Crowley.
"Organize at the grass roots level. Win elections and get involved in the political process," Sanders concluded.