Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) on Monday downplayed the rebukes she’s received from Democratic leaders for her call to publicly harass Trump administration officials.
Waters drew criticism from both sides of the aisle after a video showed her encouraging supporters to form crowds to verbally harass administration officials seen out in public. She said she was not encouraging physical violence, and told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) weren’t really criticizing her.
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"They [Pelosi and Schumer] don't really say I'm out of line. What they try to do is find a way to talk about civility without attacking me or anybody else," Waters said. "As the leader of the Democratic Party, I expect that she would do everything that she could to make sure nobody believes that Democrats are out here harassing anybody or causing any violence, and I think that she was very responsible in the way she said that."
She said these Democrats were not attacking her but making it clear their focus is on children being detained at the border.
"They're not attacking me. They're trying to make sure that people understand that we're focused on the children and that we're not focused on this diversion, particularly the way the president would have it sound and make it out to be," Waters added.
This comes after Pelosi tweeted an article about Waters’ speech, saying it was "unacceptable."
"Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable," Pelosi said about Waters’ remarks. "As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea."
Schumer was hardly ambiguous in his response to Waters, either. He said it was un-American to advocate the harassment of political opponents.
"No one should call for the harassment of political opponents," he added. "That's not right. That's not American."
Waters remarks and the associated Democratic criticism stems from recent events when Trump administration officials have been forced out of restaurants, such as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Nevertheless, Waters said this was a distraction created by Trump, who weighed in on the controversy himself by calling Waters a "an extraordinarily low IQ person" on Twitter.
"This president will try to do everything to divert attention," Waters said. "He calls me names. He calls everybody names. As a matter of fact, we expect that from him."