House Republicans on Tuesday forced a vote to censure Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for calling on protesters to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been acquitted of murder charges in the killing of George Floyd.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) introduced the privileged censure resolution, forcing the vote on the floor.
It was not clear if he’d be able to garner the votes needed but he said he expected to draw some 15 Democrats to vote with him.
“This weekend in Minnesota, Maxine Waters broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence. Speaker Pelosi is ignoring Waters’ behavior—that’s why I am introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Waters for these dangerous comments,” McCarthy tweeted on Monday.
Waters called for protesters to “get more active” in Brooklyn Center, Minn., for a protest against police brutality on Saturday evening.
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict and we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice,” she said, according to videos posted to social media.
“We got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Her comments sparked sharp pushback from Republicans, who accused Waters — the chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee — of attempting to incite violence during a time of unrest amid the trial.
McCarthy told Fox News her comments warranted censure “because Maxine Waters believes there is value in violence.”
“And now what she has said has even put doubt into a jury. You had a judge announce that it was wrong. I think this takes action especially when she has a pattern of this behavior,” he continued.
Top Democrats, however, largely came to Waters’ defense, with House Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) blasting McCarthy for targeting the California Democrat, noting similar rhetoric made by former President Trump sparked a deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Kevin McCarthy should focus on his own conference, because the Republicans in the House are a mess right now,” he told reporters of the resolution during a press conference on Tuesday. “Perhaps he should sit this one out.
“When you’ve got a situation where (Colorado Rep.) Lauren Boebert is a mess, (Florida Rep.) Matt Gaetz is a mess, (Georgia Rep.) Marjorie Taylor Greene is a mess, clean up your mess, Kevin,” Jeffries continued. “Sit this one out. You’ve got no credibility. Here, we support peaceful protests.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended Waters and accused Republicans of taking her remarks out of context, telling reporters on Monday: “No [she shouldn’t apologize], Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the Civil Rights movement.”
Waters has stood by her remarks, telling The Grio: “I am nonviolent,” during an interview on Monday.
”Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us, basically calling us violent — any time they see an opportunity to seize on a word, so they do it and they send a message to all of the white supremacists, the KKK, the Oath Keepers, the [Proud] Boys and all of that, how this is a time for [Republicans] to raise money on [Democrats’] backs,” she told the publication.
The resolution took issue with Waters’ rhetoric and noted that the judge in the Derek Chauvin trial said that her comments could lead to the trial verdict being overturned on appeal.
Judge Peter Cahill denied a motion for mistrial but told Chauvin’s defense lawyer, “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.
“This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning,” the judge fumed. “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.”
Censure resolutions are historically rare, with just 23 lawmakers having been censured in the history of the House of Representatives.