House Republicans are pushing forward with a resolution to censure Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for her charged rhetoric before demonstrators in Minnesota that even drew a rebuke from the judge in the former police officer Derek Chauvin murder trial.
Republicans accuse Waters of inciting violence in an already tense environment when she encouraged protesters to "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" if Chauvin isn't found guilty of George Floyd's death.
"I'd like to see Maxine Waters apologize for the inflammatory comments that she's made inciting violence," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said Tuesday in support of the censure resolution. "It's a powder keg down there. The last thing you want to do is make it worse."
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy intends to introduce a resolution as soon as Tuesday to formally condemn Waters. Republicans hope to get enough rank-and-file Democrats to cross over, but House leadership has stood by Waters.
But Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Tuesday blasted the "frivolous resolution" against Waters and called out McCarthy for failing to condemn other members of his party, including those who incited the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
"Kevin McCarthy should focus on his own conference because the Republicans in the House are a mess right now," Jeffries, D-N.Y., said. "Perhaps he should sit this one out. When you think that Kevin McCarthy has the nerve to say something about anyone when he supported the violent insurrection."
Waters traveled to Brooklyn Center, Minnesota over the weekend to show support for protesters who were demonstrating against the killing of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man who was shot by a police officer on April 11. After her remarks to the crowd, Waters stopped to talk to reporters where she said she's looking for a guilty murder verdict against Chauvin.
Asked how protesters should respond if Chauvin isn't found guilty, Waters said: "We’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business."
Waters' rhetoric prompted Chauvin's attorney Monday to ask for a mistrial.
The Minnesota judge on the case, Peter Cahill, denied the request but rebuked Waters' remarks from the bench as "disrespectful to the rule of law." He said Waters' comments -- before the jury was sequestered for deliberations -- may have presented an avenue for Chauvin to appeal and have the "whole trial being overturned."
Waters has since clarified that she was not encouraging violence and she accused Republicans of trying to distort her message for political gains.
"I am nonviolent," she told theGrio in an interview.
"Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us, basically calling us violent … any time they see an opportunity to seize on a word, so they do it and they send a message to all of the white supremacists, the KKK, the Oath Keepers, the [Proud] Boys and all of that, how this is a time for [Republicans] to raise money on [Democrats] backs," Waters told theGrio.
Her comments on confrontation were nonviolent, Waters said. "I talk about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that’s going on, I’m talking about speaking up. I’m talking about legislation. I’m talking about elected officials doing what needs to be done to control their budgets and to pass legislation."
While some Democrats have privately grumbled about Waters' remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood by Financial Services Committee Chairwoman.
Pelosi, D-Calif., told pool reporters Monday that Waters does not need to apologize and her words did not spark violence: "Absolutely not," Pelosi said.
"Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the Civil Rights movement," Pelosi said in defense of her fellow California Democrat. "I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They've handled this with great dignity, and no ambiguity or lack of-- misinterpretation by the other side. No, I don't think she should apologize."
Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has already introduced a resolution to expel Waters from Congress.
The House targeted Greene earlier this year and removed her from her committee assignments because of her past social media postings promoting conspiracy theories and violence against Democratic politicians.
Greene said Waters has a long history of inciting violence going back to the Rodney King riots in 1992 and it's time to remove her from Congress.
"Democrat Maxine Waters stood in the streets of Minnesota while breaking curfew and inciting riots that led to gunshots being fired at National Guardsmen," Greene said.
One Republican who joined with Democrats in removing Greene from her committees said she's supportive of censuring Waters too.
"Maxine Waters has a long history of inciting unrest and supporting dictators who use violence to get what they want," Rep. María Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., said in a statement obtained by Fox News. "She was friends with the murderous tyrant, Fidel Castro, and this is a direct page out of Fidel’s playbook! I always hold people accountable, regardless of their political party, I’ve proved it within my own party already. Maxine Waters must be held accountable for her words and actions. Just because she is in the party of power, doesn’t mean she can get away with this!"
Democrats, however, are quick to point out controversies within the Republican Party, including Greene's rhetoric and the federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., involving human trafficking. Recently, those two members were also reportedly interested in starting an "America First" caucus in the House.
A draft document outlining the goals of the caucus includes a "respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and promoting buildings with "architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture."
"I'm shocked that the House Republicans apparently were plotting to form a Jim Crow, KKK-like caucus," Jeffries said Tuesday. "That should shock the conscience of every American."
Scalise, however, expressed confidence Tuesday that Greene and her allies have backed down from forming the caucus.
"There is no caucus that they’ve formed. ... I think what Marjorie said was a staffer wrote that [caucus platform document]... She said she’s not pursuing that," Scalise said.
"There is no member of Congress who said they are creating that kind of caucus."
Scalise, who survived a politically motivated shooting in 2017 during a congressional baseball practice, brushed back any potential comparisons to Waters' comments Saturday to those made by Rep. Mo Brooks or former President Trump in advance of the violent attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
"President Trump used the words peaceful," Scalise said. "... I haven't heard Maxine saying anything about peacefully protesting. She's talking about violence."
"She was trying to incite violence and, in fact, there is violence going on right now in Minnesota because of her actions," Scalise added. "This isn't the first time she's made those kinds of inflammatory comments."
Scalise said Pelosi "covered for" Waters and it's time for Democrats to call out heated rhetoric on their side of the aisle.
"I haven't heard any Democrats speaking out against what Maxine has said, and it's time for Democrats to speak out when they see it on both sides," Scalise said. "They only want to speak out on one side of the aisle, not on both, and that hypocrisy, I think, is starting to shine through."