President Trump sought Tuesday to keep a spotlight on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a veteran lawmaker whose call for aggressive protests of administration officials prompted rebukes from members of both parties.
In a morning tweet, Trump said that Waters is now “the face of the Democrats” and that she and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) make a “fine leadership team.”
“They should always stay together and lead the Democrats, who want Open Borders and Unlimited Crime, well into the future….and pick Crooked Hillary for Pres,” Trump said, referencing the Democrat he defeated in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton.
The tweet was a clear attempt to leverage additional political advantage from a Los Angeles rally over the weekend at which Waters told supporters, “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!”
Her call for political harassment was criticized on Monday by Republicans and Democrats alike, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). And Democrats continued to be pressed about their reaction as they appeared on morning news shows Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s inappropriate for any of us to condone any political harassment,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said on Fox News when he was asked about Waters’s comments.
Ryan, who unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi for minority leader after the 2016 election, said Trump was largely to blame for the breakdown in civility in the nation’s politics.
“This has started under his watch, and unfortunately it’s gotten to this point,” Ryan said. He added that it important for Democrats “to kind of move on” and talk about issues important to voters.
Trump’s tweet about Waters was his second in as many days.
On Monday afternoon, Trump called Waters “an extraordinarily low IQ person” and appeared to issue a veiled threat to Waters herself.
“She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement,” Trump wrote. “Be careful what you wish for Max!”
In a series of media interviews Monday night, Waters said Trump mischaracterized her comments.
“I did not call for harm for anybody. The president lied again,” she said on MSNBC. She also read a read a list of times that Trump has called for violence.
Waters included a clip from the show on her Twitter feed.
Waters’s comments followed the ouster of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders from a Virginia restaurant on Friday night.
Protests of other administration officials continued Monday night, with a group gathering outside the Washington home of White House policy adviser Stephen Miller. He was traveling with Trump in South Carolina at the time.