President Donald Trump on Monday warned Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to “be careful what you wish for” after she encouraged her supporters to publicly shame Cabinet officials over the administration’s immigration policies.
Trump misrepresented Waters’ comments, claiming she had called for his supporters to be harmed.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party,” the president tweeted. “She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Waters had urged her supporters on Saturday to publicly harass Cabinet officials after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out a restaurant in Virginia over her ties to Trump.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” Waters said during a rally in Los Angeles. “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. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
“We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” she said in reference to the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on undocumented immigrants, which has led to families being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
She repeated the call to action Sunday during an appearance on MSNBC.
“I have no sympathy for these people that are in this administration who know it is wrong what they’re doing ... but they tend to not want to confront this president,” she said.
Waters’ remarks drew criticism from both sides of the aisle, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called them “unacceptable.”
“Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable,” Pelosi tweeted Monday. “As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”
It’s unclear what Trump meant in his warning to Waters, although many political and media pundits interpreted it as a threat. A representative for the White House did not immediately respond when asked for clarification.
“We are allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm ― and this goes for all people regardless of politics,” Sanders said Monday during a press briefing.
“This weekend, a member of Congress called for people to ‘push back’ and make clear to those serving their country in this administration that they are not welcome anywhere any time for anything,” she added. “Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable.”
Trump’s attack on Waters comes two months after a California man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill the Democratic lawmaker over her opposition to the president.
Waters addressed the tweet about her on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” on Monday night. The congresswoman said that Trump lied about her comments and that she would never call for violence or harm to anyone.
Waters recounted to Hayes the fact that Trump called for violence a number of times during his 2016 presidential campaign, even offering to help those who got in legal trouble.
“Well, I expect ‘Don the Con Man’ to say anything,” Waters said. “He’s a liar, he’s deplorable, he cannot be trusted. The American people should be accustomed to that now and know who we have for president ― someone who does not deserve to be president.”
This has been updated to include Sanders’ comments and Waters appearance on MSNBC.