Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) claimed over the weekend that she did not use inflammatory rhetoric against Trump supporters or encourage violence against them during Trump's presidency.
What did Waters say during Trump's presidency?
Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, came under fire in 2018 after she encouraged her supporters to confront supporters of then-President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet.
"Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up and 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," she said.
Maxine Waters calls for attacks on Trump administration: "If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in… https://t.co/z7vSo7lkcp— Ryan Saavedra (@Ryan Saavedra)1529871853.0
Waters later said in an interview on MSNBC that Trump's defenders would not be safe from being confronted over their support of Trump.
"They are not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they are not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they are not going to be able to shop in a department store. The people are going to turn on them, they are gonna protest, they are gonna absolutely harass them," Waters said at the time.
At the time, Democrats were angry at Trump over his "zero tolerance" immigration policy. Less than a week before Waters' comments, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was run out of a restaurant.
What is Waters saying now?
Speaking with MSNBC host Ali Velshi on Sunday, Waters denied ever using inflammatory language suggesting violence against Trump's supporters.
"As a matter of fact, if you look at the words that I used, the strongest thing I said was tell them they're not welcome," Waters claimed. "[I said], 'Talk to them. Tell them they're not welcome.' I didn't say, 'Go and fight.' I didn't say anybody was going to have any violence. And so they can't make that stick."
By contrast, Waters claimed that Trump was determined "to destroy our democracy if he could not be president." She claimed he "sent" the rioters into the Capitol.
"Nothing equals that," Waters said, adding that Republicans should distance themselves from Trump or they "will be owned by this dishonorable human being."
Why is she defending herself now?
Trump's lead impeachment attorney, Bruce Castor, confirmed last week that he will use "dueling video" to combat evidence that Trump's rhetoric about election integrity incited the violence at the Capitol.
Castor's confirmation came after Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked if he would use video of Waters' 2018 remarks during Trump's Senate trial, which begins on Tuesday.
"I think you can count on that," Castor said.
According to Castor, Democrats are guilty of essentially the same thing they say Trump should be convicted in the Senate over.
There's an awful lot of a tape of cities burning and courthouses being attacked and federal agents being assaulted by rioters in the street cheered on by Democrats throughout the country, and many of them in Washington, using really the most inflammatory rhetoric that's possible to use. And certainly, there would be no suggestion that they did anything to incite any of the actions. Certainly, there wasn't any anyhow.
But here, when you have the president of the United States give a speech and says you should peacefully make your thinking known to the people in Congress, he's all of a sudden a villain. So you got to better be careful what you wish for.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) made the same point on Sunday.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Paul said that if Democrats' impeachment standard was applied fairly, then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer should also face impeachment.
"If we're going to criminalize speech, and somehow impeach everybody who says, 'Go fight to hear your voices heard,' I mean really we ought to impeach Chuck Schumer then," Paul said.
"He went to the Supreme Court, stood in front of the Supreme Court and said specifically, 'Hey Gorsuch, hey Kavanaugh, you've unleashed a whirlwind. And you're going to pay the price,'" Paul continued. "This inflammatory wording, this violent rhetoric of Chuck Schumer was so bad that the chief justice, who rarely says anything publicly, immediately said this kind of language is dangerous as a mob tried to invade the Supreme Court."