Pelosi Defends Waters For Comments That Sparked Performative GOP Outrage

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answers questions during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol June 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pelosi discussed a range of issues duri... WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answers questions during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol June 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pelosi discussed a range of issues during the news conference including a push from House Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump, and Trump’s recent plan to levy tariffs against Mexico in an effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration from the nation’s southern border. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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April 19, 2021 3:59 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Monday issued a strong defense of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) amid Republicans’ outcry over the House Financial Services chair’s remarks urging protesters against police brutality to “get more confrontational.”

When asked whether Waters need to apologize for her comments, Pelosi denied the notion, according to a Hill pool report on Monday.

“No she doesn’t,” Pelosi said. “That woman on the floor should be apologizing for what she said.”

Asked to specify who the House Speaker was referring to, Pelosi said she was unsure. (Pelosi may have been talking about Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI), who blamed Waters for a drive-by shooting in Minnesota over the weekend.)

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“I don’t know but she was attributing some murder — some incident that happened after that to Maxine’s statement,” Pelosi said, according to the Hill pool report. “No, Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the Civil Rights movement.”

The House speaker continued that she personally believes that lawmakers should follow the lead set by George Floyd’s family, who Pelosi said handled the protests in the wake of his death with “great dignity, and no ambiguity.” Waters shouldn’t feel obligated to apologize, she said.

Asked by a reporter whether Waters’ comments incited violence, Pelosi replied: “No, absolutely not.”

Pelosi’s defense of Waters was issued shortly after Waters herself pushed back against her GOP colleagues’ who claimed that her comments on Saturday could incite violence. Waters had spoken Saturday at a protest against the killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Speaking with the Grio, Waters decried GOP outrage over her comment. “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,” she said.

“I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say,” the congresswoman continued. “This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”

Waters’ dismissal of the GOP backlash against her follows House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s threat to “bring action” against her for “inciting violence” at the protest on Saturday, even though the demonstration itself was not violent. Several Republican lawmakers publicly threw their support behind McCarthy’s threat, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who vowed to get Waters expelled from Congress.

Republicans’ performative outrage over Waters’ recent comment comes after they spent months egging on former President Trump’s bogus claims of widespread election fraud amid his refusal to concede. The GOP’s embrace of efforts to delegitimize the election process helped fuel the deadly Capitol insurrection that Trump incited. Trump himself continues to maintain a stronghold on the GOP, despite deriding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as a “dumb son of a bitch” for not opposing the election results.

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