After Republicans launched a long-shot attempt to censure and expel Maxine Waters from Congress over comments on the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, which the judge said could provide grounds for appeal, the veteran California progressive stayed defiant.
“I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say,” Waters, 82, told the Grio. “This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”
Waters, who is African American, has served in Congress since 1991. She has a long record of campaigning for civil rights and confronting political opponents in blunt terms, in some quarters earning the nickname Kerosene Maxine.
Long a favorite target of Republicans, she attracted such focused ire in 2018, when she said Trump aides and officials should be confronted by the public. Last week, she told the hard-right Republican congressman Jim Jordan to “shut your mouth” during a hearing with Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser.
She spoke to the media on Saturday during a protest in Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis suburb where police shot dead a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, earlier this month.
Chauvin, a former police officer, is on trial in the city for murder, after he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, allegedly killing him, in May last year. As the world awaits a verdict, tensions are high in the city.
Waters said she hoped Chauvin would be found “guilty, guilty, guilty”.
If Chauvin was acquitted, she said, “we’ve 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.”
Republicans were quick to criticise Waters, accusing her of inciting violence as, they said, Democrats accused Donald Trump of doing before the 6 January Capitol riot.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy – who voted against impeaching Trump over the Capitol attack, which resulted in five deaths – said on Monday he would introduce a resolution censuring Waters for what he deemed “dangerous comments”.
“This weekend in Minnesota, Maxine Waters broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence,” McCarthy tweeted.
In a co-ordinated Republican attack, the Florida representative María Elvira Salazar said Waters had “a long history of inciting unrest and supporting dictators who use violence to get what they want”. The Texas representative August Pfluger called her rhetoric “outrageous and shameful”.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Georgia Republican and conspiracy theorist who has expressed support for executing prominent Democrats and FBI agents, said she would try to expel Waters, whom she called “a danger to our society”.
The Chauvin trial is at the center of national dialogue. On Tuesday Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told NBC he had received a call from Joe Biden.
The president, he said, “was just calling. He knows how it is to lose a family member. And he knows that the process of what we’re going through so he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, and hoping that everything would come out to be OK.”
Waters’ words were raised in the courtroom in Minneapolis on Monday when defense attorneys motioned for a mistrial because of them. Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion but also expressed frustration, saying Waters had been “disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch”.
Cahill also told the defense: “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
But Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, defended Waters, saying she did not need to apologize.
“Maxine talked about ‘confrontation’ in the manner of the civil rights movement,” Pelosi said.