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Rep. Waters calls for harassing admin officials in public, Trump calls her 'low IQ'

The California Democrat's comments come after several presidential aides have faced problems when they've gone out to restaurants recently.
by Jacob Taylor /  / Updated 
Image: Maxine Waters speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention
Rep. Maxine Waters at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention in San Diego on Feb. 24.Denis Poroy / AP file

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Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is under fire for saying that members of the Trump administration should be heckled when out in public.

"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, who has called for President Donald Trump to be impeached, told supporters over the weekend.

Trump responded, calling Waters "an extraordinarily low IQ person" and saying that she was calling for harm to his supporters.

Waters' call to heckle Trump officials comes a week after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and senior adviser Stephen Miller were both confronted by protesters while eating at Mexican restaurants.

And a similar incident occurred over the weekend when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned against harassment of officials in remarks Monday on the Senate floor.

"If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action, and vote them out of office, but no one should call for the harassment of political opponents, that's not right, that's not American," Schumer said.

Also Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted out a statement that didn't mention Waters by name but was seen by some as a slap on the wrist of the Democratic lawmaker.

"In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again," Pelosi said. "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."

Later Monday, Walters told reporters she had never called for violence or harassment of Trump administration officials, rather she asked her supporters to protest "peacefully." She suggested that if people personally believe that kicking a Trump administration official out of a restaurant is their form of peaceful protest, she would stand by it.

"I believe in peaceful, very peaceful, protests," Waters said. "I have not called for the harm of anybody. This president has lied again when he's saying I called for harm to anyone."

Waters also repeatedly denied that her fellow Democrats, including Schumer and Pelosi, were referencing her when they spoke about the need for civility in politics. "They have talked about civility from everybody," she said. "Don't put this on Nancy Pelosi. Don't put this on everybody, put it on Trump. "

Earlier, Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., said any disagreements with Trump officials should be expressed in a civil manner.

"If I saw an administrator out and about there is nothing wrong with confronting that person, but not to lead with love and to do it in a way that is more reflective of the values that we are trying to reject in our country is unacceptable to me," Booker told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.

Van Hollen told Hallie Jackson on MSNBC: "No, I don’t think people should be harassed. But as a public official, I can tell you when I go out to eat at a restaurant, people come up to me and share their opinions and there's nothing wrong with that. But there's a difference between strongly sharing opinions and being harassed."

Waters' comments has drawn plenty of criticism from Republicans.

"This is very dangerous," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on Monday in an interview on Fox News. "She should apologize to the American public. We need civility in this country but the idea that you're asking people to go forward, that becomes very dangerous and it becomes a risk inside our country as well."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders addressed the issue later Monday, saying, "Healthy debate is important, but the calls for harassment is unacceptable. America is a great country and our ability to find solutions despite disagreements is what makes us great."

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