A senior California Democratic lawmaker added some fresh fuel to the raging debate over civility in politics with a call for public confrontations with Trump administration officials.
“If you think we’re rallying now you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif, told supporters at a rally in Los Angeles over the weekend, “If you see anybody from that (Trump) 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.” A video of her remarks was posted on Twitter on Sunday.
Her call drew a response from President Trump, who called her “an extraordinarily low IQ person in a tweet on Monday, and warned “Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Waters comments come as at least three Trump administration officials — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, adviser Stephen Miller and spokeswoman Sarah Sanders — have been forced out or denied service in restaurants. Protesters have also targeted Nielsen at home in recent days over the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Without naming Waters directly, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted a CNN story about the controversy and said that President Trump’s own incivility has “provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable.”
In a Monday morning appearance on Fox News, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called on Waters to apologize. “The people who claim tolerance seem to be the most intolerant in this process,” McCarthy said, “I have friends on the other side of the aisle where we philosophically disagree. We have debates about our philosophy difference, but we’ll sit down and have dinner together, have a cup of coffee together.”
Waters, 79, is a veteran lawmaker, prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. She has found a new wave of popularity and viral fame within Democratic circles in the Trump era for her often provocative and combative rhetoric towards this administration in public and in cable news appearances.
Waters was the subject of a viral 2017 meme in which she engaged in verbal combat with Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin repeatedly staying, “reclaiming my time” to cut off the secretary when he did not respond directly to her questions. Earlier this year she publicly argued that the president should be impeached.
Waters office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on congressional leaders’ reaction to her statement.