OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
It is apparent that California Rep. Maxine Waters can say the most abhorrent things and come away unscathed.
A censure vote was brought against Rep. Waters on Tuesday for the words she said during a protest for George Floyd and Daunte Wright and Democrats, voting along party lines, blocked it by a vote of 216 – 210, CNN reported.
It was a razor thin decision that came around an hour before Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murdering Floyd, as Rep. Waters demanded.
The House voted Tuesday afternoon to block a resolution from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to censure Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters following her remarks over the weekend calling for protesters to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the killing of George Floyd.
Democrats had an extremely narrow margin to defeat the censure resolution. After working the phones and talking to their members, House Democratic leaders were confident ahead of the vote that they would have enough support to table the resolution, according to a Democratic leadership aide, and, in the end, no House Democrats broke ranks. The vote was 216-210 along party lines with four members not voting.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN Monday night he didn’t expect any Democrats to back the censure resolution, though House Democratic moderates are privately discussing how to handle the upcoming vote. Some are weighing whether to back the resolution and others pushing for resolutions condemning Republicans for their comments and roles around the events of the January 6 Capitol riot, according to Democratic members.
Waters, a California Democrat, on Saturday night had called for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is acquitted. The comments, coming at a time of simmering national tension amid several high-profile killings of Black people at the hands of police officers, were immediately seized on by Republicans who said Waters was encouraging violence. In a subsequent interview, Waters said she was “nonviolent” and was not encouraging violence but instead asking people to confront the US justice system.
It is not the first time Rep. Waters had been accused of incendiary rhetoric, as McCarthy pointed to when he introduced the resolution.
“We’ve heard this type of violent rhetoric from Waters before, and the United States Congress must clearly and without reservation reprimand this behavior before more people get hurt,” he said.
Prominent Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin even spoke against Rep. Waters statements on Tuesday.
“She should never have said it,” the senator said.
“Right now is not a good time for that type of rhetoric, it really isn’t,” he said. “Maybe (Waters) just misspoke.”
“I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that says guilty guilty guilty,” she “And if we don’t, we cannot go away.”
She made it known that she was referring to a murder conviction and no less than that. When reporters asked what people should do if there was not a guilty verdict 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.”
After the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments in the case on the death of George Floyd, the judge in the case said that Rep. Waters comments made this weekend could be cause for an appeal if Chauvin is convicted, The New York Times reported.
“An elected official, a United States congressperson, was making what I interpreted to be — what I think are reasonably interpreted to be — threats against the sanctity of the jury process,” Chauvin’ attorney, Eric J. Nelson, said.
Judge Peter A. Cahill absolutely scorched Rep. Waters in his response, in which he declined to declare a mistrial in the case.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” the judge said.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that’s disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” he said, adding that it is disrespectful the “coequal branches of government.”
“Their failure to do so is abhorrent,” he said.