Swalwell Defends Hecklers: ‘The President Has to Be Confronted’

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) on Thursday defended recent protests and downplayed crass behavior by those on the left, blaming President Donald Trump for their behavior.

CNN host Erin Burnett brought up a slew of "vile" acts, including hecklers forcing DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen out of a restaurant, House members screaming at Trump, and actor Peter Fonda’s offensive tweet. Fonda wrote, "we should rip Barron Trump from his mother's arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles," and later apologized, but Swalwell blamed Trump for creating this much "emotion in the country."

"When you separate a baby from its breastfeeding mother and put that child in a cage, you're going to see emotion in this country," Swalwell said.

He added that he has received messages asking him to do something, and he expressed dissatisfaction that the House Judiciary Committee was instead looking at Hillary Clinton’s email scandal in light of the inspector general’s recent report. That report found bias at the FBI during the investigation of Clinton during her time as secretary of state.

Burnett eventually cut him off and pressed him on whether Fonda’s tweet or actor Robert De Niro’s vulgar awards show speech were appropriate.

"I understand your point, but just to be clear, you're not defending what—or are you?" she asked. "De Niro, Fonda, those kinds of things?"

"I will say that my colleagues who went to the president and wanted to confront him had the passion of their constituents behind them," Swalwell answered. "Certainly Fonda apologized, rightfully, for what he did, but the president has to be confronted about what he's doing."

He went on to say the country’s "awakening" against Trump needs to "be louder" in order to win politically.

"Of course we should never resort to violence, we should do it peacefully, as leaders before us in this country have done it in other trying times," he said. "The president is doing exactly what he said he would do during the campaign, now we just must be louder."

His comments in some ways echo his fellow California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, who last night defended hecklers who forced Nielsen out of a restaurant.