Some Democrats are reportedly concerned that public appeals to “absolutely harass” Trump administration officials will come back to hurt them in the polls and benefit Republicans.
There have been several recent instances where Trump officials have been publically shamed, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who was asked to leave by an owner of a restaurant in Virginia.
On Saturday, Florida Attorney General – and ardent Trump supporter – Pam Bondi was confronted by a group of protesters outside the screening of a documentary about Mister Rogers in Tampa. A video of the confrontation shows the Florida AG leaving the theater as several people yell at her, with one woman seen shouting at her about Bondi’s recent actions on health care policy and her stance on immigration.
The Washington Post’s editorial board wrote a column titled, “Let the Trump team eat in peace.” The paper identified the heightened state of “passions” in the country, but saw no benefit in protesters interrupting dinners.
Democrats warned that these public encounters could win sympathy for the Trump administration, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Rep. Maxine Waters, in the meantime, is not backing down from her weekend comments calling for people to confront members of the Trump administration at gas stations and anywhere else they're seen in public.
“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,” Waters said Saturday, later telling MSNBC that protesters are “going to absolutely harass them.”
The comments were in response to Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that led to families being separated at the U.S.- Mexico border.
Waters argued her comments have been misconstrued, claiming she wasn’t calling for protesters to actually “harm” Cabinet members.
“Trump is the one who is creating lies,” Waters said during a Monday afternoon news conference. “Trying to have people believe that I talked about harming people. There’s nowhere in my statement, anytime, anyplace that we talked about harm.”
Trump sought to cast Waters as a spokewoman for her party.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party,” he tweeted on Monday. “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!”
David Axelrod, the former Obama campaign strategist, urged calm.
“Disgusted with this admin’s policies? Organize, donate, volunteer, VOTE! Rousting Cabinet members from restaurants is an empty and, ultimately, counter-productive gesture that won’t change a thing,” he said in a tweet, according to The Times.
A spokesman for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was injured in the shooting at a congressional baseball practice just over a year ago, warned about the dangers of overheated rhetoric and protests.
“Whip Scalise knows firsthand the dangerous consequences that can result from making political differences personal and vitriolic,” spokeswoman Lauren Fine said in a statement. “We are lucky to live in a country where we have the right to freely debate our differences civilly. Harassment is never an acceptable method of disagreement.”
Even celebrities are getting into the trolling of the Trump administration, with “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver requesting that his audience send obscene images to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and posting Sessions' email account on air.
Actor Peter Fonda also was condemned for his Twitter call to "rip Barron Trump from his mother's arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles."
The recent incidents prompted the DHS over the weekend to issue a memo about “a heightened threat" against their employees due to the furor over Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
"This assessment is based on specific and credible threats that have been levied against certain DHS employees and a sharp increase in the overall number of general threats against DHS employees -- although the veracity of each threat varies," the memo from acting deputy secretary of homeland security Claire M. Grady stated, according to CBS News. "In addition, over the last few days, thousands of employees have had their personally identifiable information publically [sic] released on social media."
The memo reportedly recommends that employees take numerous safety precautions, including not displaying work badges in public, being careful with public conversations and using caution on all social networks.
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly contributed to this report
Fox News' Alex Pappas and the Associated Press contributed to this report