A defiant Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters 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.
But – pointing her finger at President Trump – the California Democrat 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 on Capitol Hill. “Trying to have people believe that I talked about harming people. There’s nowhere in my statement, anytime, anyplace that we talked about harm.”
Waters over the weekend made the comments amid the liberal backlash over the White House’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, as well as several recent incidents where Trump administration officials were confronted at or kicked out of restaurants amid last week's backlash over family separations at the border.
“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.”
In a tweet Monday, President Trump accused Waters of advocating “harm” against his supporters.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. 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!” Trump tweeted.
Some Democrats have appeared to distance themselves from Waters remarks. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for “unity” on Twitter.
“In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea,” Pelosi tweeted.
Multiple sources told Fox News that congressional Democrats have been split on how to react to Waters' remarks. One lawmaker from a moderate House district said Waters’s tactics “don't help” as Democrats try to retake the House this fall.
However, others pointed out that Waters was “speaking to her base.”
“Trump says a lot of crazy s---,” one Democrat told Fox News, “and we can, too.”
On Monday, Waters said she was speaking “truth to power” and was arguing that the “president has done a horrible thing” with his illegal immigration policies. She said she has called for peaceful protests.
“Protest is about peaceful resistance to the kind of actions that we are experiencing from this president as he holds these children hostage,” she said.
She added: “Protest is the Democratic way, as long as it is peaceful. I believe in peaceful protests."
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Raymond Bogan, Andrew O’Reilly and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.