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Democrats block GOP move to censure Waters for Chauvin comments

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(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats on Tuesday successfully killed a privileged resolution brought forth by Republicans that would have censured Rep. Maxine Waters for comments she made in Minnesota calling on protestors to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is not convicted of murdering George Floyd.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy filed the resolution on the House floor Tuesday afternoon and Democrats immediately moved to table it, which stops the resolution from proceeding further, effectively killing it.

The vote to table the resolution was 216-210, along party lines with no defections.

“I hope that we are going to get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, then we cannot go away,” Waters told reporters over the weekend while joining protestors in Minnesota. Republicans quickly latched on to her words and accused Waters of “inciting violence.”

A jury was expected to deliver a verdict in the Chauvin case soon after the vote on the resolution.

Waters apparently had no new comments Tuesday after saying Monday in an interview with theGrio that she had been talking about confronting the judicial system and passing legislation. “I am nonviolent,” she said.

The judge in the Chauvin case criticized Waters by name on Monday for making the comments, calling them “abhorrent,” but denied the defense argument that the jury, which wasn’t sequestered at that point, could have been prejudiced, although he did say it might be grounds for a winning appeal.

“I’ve been really clear that no elected official should ever incite violence and she should not have incited violence. She did. The speaker’s wrong in terms of not holding her accountable for that,” House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney told reporters Tuesday.

“I’d like to see Maxine Waters apologize for the inflammatory comments that she’s made inciting violence. It’s a powder keg down there,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said, referring to the protestors in Minnesota who are awaiting a verdict in the Chauvin trial.

“We should be all focused on making sure that justice is carried out. The last thing you’d want to do is give a grounds for an appeal that the judge himself acknowledged,” Scalise added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday defended Waters from the accusations and said Waters has nothing to apologize for.

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer also defended Waters on Tuesday, telling reporters that Waters used the word “confrontational” to mean they should face the broken U.S. criminal justice system head on.

“To confront is to face, confront your challenges, confront the truth, confront your circumstances … it does not imply violence,” Hoyer said.

“I just think it’s absurd, and I think it ought to be roundly rejected,” Hoyer said of Republican efforts to censure Waters. “And I would hope to see the Republican leadership would try to have their members see the truth of what Ms. Waters said and did and believes that we ought to confront this pandemic of the loss of, particularly young black lives, in confrontations with our police departments.”

“I think it’s a totally phony effort to distract from what the Republicans know has been the rhetoric of so many of their members which has in effect, aided and abetted and condoned violent activity,” he added.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to condemn Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments about protests related to the Chauvin trial, noting repeatedly that Waters had “provided further clarification of her own remarks.” She made a point, though, of calling for “peaceful protests.”

“The congresswoman clarified her own comments,” Psaki said during her daily briefing. “And what I can do is speak for the president’s view, which is that it’s important to provide a space and an opportunity for peaceful protest, but protesting should be peaceful. That’s something he has consistently advocated for, and he will, regardless of the outcome of the trial.”

House Democrats laid into McCarthy and Republicans on Tuesday and accused them of hypocrisy after McCarthy vowed to take action against Waters.

“Kevin McCarthy should focus on his own conference because the Republicans in the House are a mess right now,” Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said during a press conference Tuesday.

“Perhaps he should sit this one out,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries ripped into McCarthy for failing to condemn Republican colleagues who used inciteful language in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and for voting to overturn the presidential election results later that night.

“When you think that Kevin McCarthy has the nerve to say something about anyone when he supported the violent insurrection — after the mob attacked the Capitol, threatened to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, kill other members of Congress, hang Mike Pence — he then came back to the Capitol and voted to support the “big lie” which ignited the violent insurrection and continues to play footsie with Donald Trump,” Jeffries said.

“When you’ve got a situation where Lauren Boebert is a mess. Matt Gaetz is a mess. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a mess,” Jeffries said of House Republicans who have come under fire in recent weeks for their divisive views and incendiary language.

“Clean up your mess, Kevin. Sit this one out. You’ve got no credibility here,” Jeffries said.

ABC News has reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment.

Democrats have condemned violent protests and are calling for peace when a final verdict is reached in the Chauvin case.

“We support peaceful protests, consistent with the First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government peacefully. That is what we continue to support,” Jeffries said.

“So again, perhaps Kevin McCarthy should sit this one out because he’s got zero moral standing. Clean up your own mess while we as House Democrats are working to clean up the mess that has been inflicted upon the American people,” he said.

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