Rep. Maxine Waters defends speech urging crowd to 'push back' on Trump figures

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Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, insists that she never exhorted violence even as the Trump legal team prepares to use a clip of her at the impeachment trial whipping up an anti-Trump crowd.

Asked Sunday by MSNBC host Ali Velshi if she could say that “you have not glorified or encouraged violence against Republicans,” Ms. Waters replied, “Absolutely, I can say it.”

“As a matter of fact, if you look at the words that I used, the strongest thing I said was to tell them they’re not welcome, talk to them, tell them they’re not welcome,” Ms. Waters said. “I didn’t say, go and fight. I didn’t say anybody was going to have any violence. So they can’t make that statement.”

Video of Ms. Waters urging supporters on June 23, 2018, to confront Trump administration figures and “push back on them” whenever they appear in public has become Exhibit A for Republicans arguing that Mr. Trump’s remarks were in keeping with what Democratic politicians have said to stir up crowds.

“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,” Ms. Waters said at the 2018 rally. “And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome, anymore, anywhere.”

Ms. Waters insisted Sunday that her comment “does not in any way equal what this president has said and what he has done.”

The House voted last month to impeach Mr. Trump, who left office on Jan. 20, on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection.” The Senate trial begins Tuesday, and a two-thirds vote is needed to convict.

“They’re going to attack people like me, and they’re going to try and say that we have done rallies, and we have said things that have incited others, but none of us have been involved in what this president has been involved with,” Ms. Waters said.

Republicans have argued that Mr. Trump never called for violence. Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, said Sunday that if making inflammatory statements is the standard for impeachment, then plenty of Democrats should be impeached.

“They’re going to try it, but nothing any Democrat that I know of has ever said or acted in the way that the [former] President of the United States has acted,” Ms. Waters said. “People must realize, this president was out to destroy our democracy if he could not be president. He sent those people, those domestic terrorists, to the Capitol, to take over the Capitol. Even they are saying so. They are saying they were invited by the president.”

In his speech, Mr. Trump said the election was “stolen” and that “we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down” to the U.S. Capitol, where members of Congress were voting to certify the 2020 presidential election results in favor of Democrat Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Trump said that “we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.”

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Mr. Trump continued. “You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.”

He added that “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

Ms. Waters said Mr. Trump “was rallying them right before they went. He told them to be tough. He told them they could take back their government. And so nothing equals that.”

Mr. Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20. Mr. Trump left office and now lives in Florida.

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