On Tuesday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) received a letter from black leaders, which included the Rev. Al Sharpton and former DNC chair Donna Brazile, charging each of them with a failure to defend Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) from what they characterized as unwarranted attacks from the administration of President Donald Trump and GOP leadership. Waters has been an outspoken critic of Trump both in the press and on the floor, which has prompted some very unflattering to outright hostile statements issued by Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.
The latest controversy Waters was embroiled in is one in which she encouraged people to push back against Trump and his allies in public, and voice their displeasure with the policies of his administration after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were confronted in public by protesters. She was roundly criticized by members of the GOP for this, some going so far as to claim she was trying to incite acts of violence. Some members of the Democratic party spoke out as well, feeling Waters went too far with her comment, and more still remained silent offering no support. Trump claimed Waters was telling people to hurt his supporters.
The letter Schumer and Pelosi received, hosted on Politico, stated the following.
Further, we write to share our profound indignation and deep disappointment over your recentfailure to protect Congresswoman Waters from unwarranted attacks from the TrumpAdministration and others in the GOP. That failure was further compounded by your decision tounfairly deride her as being “uncivil” and “un-American.” In doing so, we believe thismischaracterizes her call to action for peaceful democratic assembly and the exercise of herconstitutional rights to free speech in support of defenseless immigrant children and their families.
As the controversy unfolded, Time reported that Waters received death threats which caused her to cancel a pair of public appearances. Waters commented, “all I have to say is this, if you shoot me you better shoot straight, there’s nothing like a wounded animal.”
Trump responded almost immediately.
While Chuck Schumer has not responded to the letter so far, Nancy Pelosi’s office issued a statement appearing in part on The Hill.
“Donald Trump has sullied the bully pulpit with reckless disregard for the safety of others. He should stop his attacks on Congresswoman Waters and all Members of Congress, the free press, and all Americans who have the right and the responsibility to speak their minds.”
Waters has stated that she in no way and never has called for violence against Trump or his supporters and that she merely wants people to speak up and make their voices heard.