President Donald Trump accused Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) of advocating "harm" against his supporters in an incendiary tweet earlier today.
"Be careful what you wish for Max!" the president said, while in the same breath blasting Waters, the most senior of the 12 black women currently serving in the United States Congress, as "an extraordinarily low IQ person."
But Waters did not call for physical harm. In fact, she called for civil disobedience.
"If you think we're rallying now you ain't seen nothing yet," she 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."
The president's tweet, on the other hand, is being interpreted by many as a threat against Waters.
Adam Serwer, the senior editor of The Atlantic tweeted:
And many agreed:
And called Trump out for lying about what Waters said:
Waters' rather pointed remarks were a response to a couple of different news reports of Trump administration officials who had trouble dining out peacefully:
- Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security, was jeered at and followed outside a Mexican restaurant by multiple protesters who peppered with questions about her enforcement of the president's "zero tolerance" family separations policy which has snowballed into a humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. Many outlets, including The New Yorker, called out the "absurdity" of Nielsen eating at a Mexican restaurant while advocating for a policy which has disproportionately affected families of Mexican descent.
- Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, said she had been asked to leave Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia because she works for the Trump administration. The restaurant's co-owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, later told The Washington Post that Sanders works as a mouthpiece for an “inhumane and unethical” administration.
Waters' comments were posted to Twitter on Sunday by Ryan Saavedra, a reporter with conservative news and opinion website The Daily Wire. The website has in the past come under fire for sharing stories that are unverified or that have been taken out of context, including a heavily scrutinized story which credited Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson with finding over $500 billion in accounting errors made by the Obama administration. (FactCheck.org found that the errors were discovered and published by HUD's independent inspector general before Carson began working for the Trump administration.)
Saavedra claimed Waters called for "attacks" on the Trump administration, a view clearly shared by the president.
Some of the president's most prominent supporters have already begun to disparage Waters for her remarks.
Speaking on her Monday podcast, Fox News personality Laura Ingraham, the host of The Ingraham Angle, claimed Waters and Democrats are "inciting violence."
“Waters is inciting violence, that woman should be brought up on charges of incitement of violence,” Ingraham said. “These people actually want people killed. Maxine Waters wants there to be blood on the streets, that woman is a complete outrage and if anyone gets hurt it’s on her hands, the blood is on her hands.”
Ingraham added that Waters should be “censured by the U.S. Congress one year after Steve Scalise was shot by a Bernie Sanders volunteer...her type of rhetoric is ramping up across the country.”
Ingraham's guest, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is the father of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, echoed her sentiments, saying Waters' call for public confrontations is “irresponsible, [it’s] inciting rioting and violence against public officials.”
By contrast, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that President Trump's own incivility has "provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable."
The president's tweet to Waters comes just over two months after Los Angeles resident Anthony Scott Lloyd pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Waters for her opposition to President Trump. Lloyd, who issued the threat during a phone call to Waters' Capitol Hill office, faces sentencing July 16 on the single count of threatening a United States official. The charge carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment.