President Donald Trump tweeted a warning to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), Monday, saying the congresswoman who has called for public confrontations of Trump administration members, should "be careful what you wish for."
The tweet came in response to a call from Waters for her supporters to “push back” on any member of Trump’s administration they should happen to see out in public.
The California Democrat's comments come after several presidential aides have faced protests or have been asked to leave restaurants they’ve visited in the past week.
"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," Waters said at a rally in Los Angeles this weekend, then again in an MSNBC interview.
Trump responded to Waters comments with a tweet calling her "an extraordinarily low IQ person," saying that she was calling for harm to his supporters. Monday afternoon Waters denied she called for anyone to be harmed.
“I believe in peaceful, very peaceful protest,” she said. “I have not called for the harm of anybody. This president has lied again when he’s saying that I called for harm to anyone.”
While Trump and Waters have a history of feuding, a rebuke from the leadership of Waters’ party came as a surprise to some.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-California), criticized Waters' comments Monday, tweeting "In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea."
Speaking from the Senate floor Monday, Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-New York), said “No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American. The president’s tactics and behavior should never be emulated. It should be repudiated.”
Waters comments came after the owner of a Lexington, Virginia, restaurant refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Tensions over the administration’s policies on immigration have led to other confrontations between members of the administration and its high-profile supporters.
The Sanders incident came days after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House adviser Stephen Miller were both heckled at Mexican restaurants, and Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, a Republican and Trump supporter, was jeered at a screening of a documentary about TV's "Mister Rogers."
Sanders tweeted from her government Twitter account this weekend that on Friday she was asked to leave the Red Hen Restaurant “because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me."
She also called for civility during the White House press briefing on Monday, saying people should be able to disagree “freely and without fear of harm."
Several Democrats have condemned Waters' comments. The Washington Post reported that a Democratic leadership aide said Waters' comments were "a gift" to the GOP.
“She went too far. Her comments, to an impartial observer, came off as a call for violence, and that is too far,” the aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said to The Post. “It became a distraction and, obviously, it needed to be addressed.”
An opinion piece by Michelle Goldberg, posted Tuesday in The New York Times, defended Waters and others who have challenged Trump's actions, saying in part, "Whether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it's important to understand why it's happening. It's less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy. Though it's tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens."