Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) responded to criticism from the judge presiding over the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday by claiming the judge said her remarks at a protest over the weekend did not matter.
“The judge said my words don’t matter,” Waters told reporters as she walked onto the House floor when asked about the backlash that she is facing over her remarks.
Waters said at a protest in Minnesota over the weekend that “protesters” were “looking for a guilty verdict,” and if they don’t get what they want, then “we cannot go away.” When asked what “protesters” should do if they do not get the verdict that they want, Waters responded that activists have “got to stay on the street,” “get more active,” and “get more confrontational.”
Waters’ comments generated instant backlash online that quickly led to condemnations and calls for punishment by U.S. lawmakers and newspaper editorial boards, including the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the case involving the death of George Floyd, slammed Waters during closing arguments on Monday when defense attorney Eric Nelson sought to have the case dismissed because, as he argued, Waters’ remarks can be “reasonably interpreted to be, threats against the sanctity of the jury process, threatening and intimidating a jury, demanding that if there’s not a guilty verdict that there would be further problems.”
Cahill responded by saying, “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
“I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction and talk about being confrontational,” Cahill later added. “This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function. I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don’t think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice his jury.”
Cahill concluded on the matter by saying that he thinks Waters’ opinion “doesn’t matter a whole lot” when it came to the facts of the case.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Monday that he will be introducing a measure to censure Waters for her remarks which, if it passes, would strip her of her position as chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.
“I know there are probably 10 to 15 who would love to vote [for censure],” McCarthy said. “It will all come down to the pressure of what Democrats will put on them to just try to vote to table it — not even to have the discussion.”