The fallout over the comments of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Cal.) continued as Democrats were asked to condemn her call for protesters to stay in the streets and get more confrontational. I recently wrote a column on how Waters had become the best possible witness for Donald Trump in her own lawsuit against him. Waters was denounced by Judge Peter Cahill for undermining not just any conviction in the trial of Derek Chauvin but the court itself in seeking to carry out its constitutional function. It would seem a simple matter for responsible people to condemn Waters’ inflammatory remarks but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.) defended her and refused to criticize the comments. Earlier this year, Pelosi condemned Trump for criminal incitement and pushed through his impeachment for using similar words on Jan. 6th. Waters was also defended on CNN where media figures supported her call for protesters to stay in the streets and get “more confrontational.”
Waters told protesters to stay and “fight” for justice and told protesters they “gotta stay on the street” and “get more confrontational.” She also said that they should not accept anything other than a conviction.
In both the impeachment and in her lawsuit, Waters insisted that Trump telling his supporters to go to the Capitol to make their voice heard and “fight” for their votes was actual criminal incitement. Conversely, Waters was speaking after multiple nights of rioting and looting and telling protesters to stay on the streets and get even more confrontational. There was violence after the remarks, including a shooting incident where two National Guard members were injured. Waters has now guaranteed that she will be cited by Trump in his own defense against her own lawsuit.
Judge Cahill made a rare statement in court that lambasted Waters for her comments and how they undermined the fairness of the trial. He declared from the bench that
I’m aware of the media reports, I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction and talk about being confrontational, but you can submit the press articles about that. This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function. I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful [way] and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect a coequal branch of government. Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent.
He added that Waters just gave the defense a possible basis to overturn any conviction in the case.
While Cahill called Waters comments “abhorrent,” Pelosi refused to criticize Waters for undermining the trial in the midst of ongoing rioting. When asked if she would ask Waters to apologize, Pelosi said “no” and added “Maxine talks about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement.”
Pelosi however did think someone should apologize. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) on Monday said on the floor
“Once again, this weekend, we saw a member of the majority openly call for more confrontation in a Minneapolis suburb. That very night, there was a drive-by shooting in that community where police and the National Guardsmen were targeted. If this were reversed, if this was said by a Republican, you know that the majority in this chamber would move to strip that representative of their committees and possibly to expel them from Congress.”
While saying Waters should not apologize, Pelosi said “That woman on the floor should be apologizing for what she said.”
Over at CNN, Waters was also defended. After hosts attacked Sen. Cruz for raising the issue as hypocritical, former ABC analyst Matthew Dowd, insisted Waters was right:
It’s incredibly thick and so is the hypocrisy on this, not the least to mention January 6th and what happened on January 6th and the number of Republicans that their words incited that. I actually just listened to Maxine Waters. We all have to be cognizant of what we say. I don’t think what she said in anyway should, we should criticize her for. Of course, we should be more confrontational. That doesn’t mean we should be more violent. But I was thinking about this as I was listening, is Emmett Till was killed in 1955, an all-white jury found the people that did it innocent. Then Medgar Evers, Jimmie Lee Jackson, so many of these folks that were guilty of killings and civil rights were then let off. And the only thing that led to the civil rights legislation to finally pass in 1965 was you know non-violent protests and so I think that’s where we’re going to end up today. The Republicans seem to me on the complete wrong side of history on this.
Well, not just Republicans, but the judge in the actual trial (who is a former aide to Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar).
I have previously written that I believe Waters is protected in such comments under the first amendment, just as Trump was engaging in protected speech. However, I condemned Trump for his speech while he was still giving it on Jan. 6th. I also condemned Waters. It is not difficult. These are reckless comments made in periods of great unrest and anger.
The defense of Waters further undermines the position of these figures in the second Trump impeachment. Indeed, Waters will likely now feature greatly in the lawsuits against Trump. Just as she has undermined the Chauvin case, she will increase the likelihood that Trump will prevail in these pending cases. If the court finds that Trump was engaged in protected speech, it will be cited as vindication for him and others in supporting their claims from the impeachment.