CNN’s Don Lemon Defends Maxine Waters: ‘People with Half a Brain’ Know She Isn’t Calling for Violence

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Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty, CNN.com

CNN host Don Lemon on Monday evening leaped to the defense of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), arguing that “people with half a brain” understand she did not call for violence if former police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in George Floyd’s death.

Waters is a “sharp-tongued, rabble-rousing lawmaker” who makes many people feel “uncomfortable,” Lemon told fellow CNN host Wolf Blitzer when asked about the lawmaker’s call to protesters to “get more confrontational.”

“Do you really think Maxine Waters is calling for violence? Maxine Waters is not calling for violence. Everyone knows that. She makes a lot of people uncomfortable, especially a lot of men and, quite frankly, especially a lot of white men, because she puts them in their place,” Lemon continued.

“She needs to be more responsible with her words. And considering how long she has been in the Congress and the public eye, she should know better. But was Maxine Water really calling for people to loot and riot? I think most people with half a brain know that’s not what she was doing,” he added.

Waters on Saturday joined protests outside a police station in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where she urged demonstrators to remain in the streets unless Chauvin is convicted. The chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee attended the event in support of residents who were protesting the recent shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who died after he was shot by now-fired police officer Kim Potter as he resisted arrest and fled from a traffic stop.

“We’re looking for a guilty verdict,” Waters said of Chauvin. “And we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd, if nothing does not happen, then we know that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice. But I am very hopeful, and I hope we are going to get a verdict that says ‘guilty, guilty, guilty.’ If we don’t, we cannot go away.”

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) condemned Waters’ comments, saying he will introduce a resolution to censure the California Democrat.

“This weekend in Minnesota, Maxine Waters broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence. Speaker Pelosi is ignoring Waters’ behavior—that’s why I am introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Waters for these dangerous comments,” McCarthy said.

Waters has since attempted to downplay her remarks, calling herself nonviolent,” while accusing Republican lawmakers of twisting her words for political gain.

“Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us, basically calling us violent … any time they see an opportunity to seize on a word, so they do it and they send a message to all of the white supremacists, the KKK, the Oath Keepers, the [Proud] Boys and all of that, how this is a time for [Republicans] to raise money on [Democrats] backs,” Waters told TheGrio.

“This is a time for [Republicans] to keep telling our constituents that [Democrats] are the enemy and they do that time and time again,” she added. “But that does not deter me from speaking truth to power. I am not intimidated. I am not afraid, and I do what needs to be done.”

However, the judge overseeing the Chauvin trial said Monday that Waters’ comments could be grounds for appealing a verdict in the trial.

“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Judge Peter Cahill said.

“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,” he added. “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 coequal branch of government.”

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