Schumer on Waters: Calling for harassment ‘not American’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticized fellow Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters of California on Monday for calling on opponents of President Donald Trump to protest his policies by harassing members of his administration.

He described Waters’ approach as “not American.”

“I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you,” the New York senator said during a floor speech. “If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office. But no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American.”

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Schumer’s comments went notably further than those of his House counterpart, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who tweeted that “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable.”

Schumer said he shares the “emotions” of those who want to take on Trump’s routine use of harsh rhetoric against political foes and “fight fire with fire.”

“I understand those who are outraged at the hypocrisy of this President when he complains about bullying, harassment and nastiness when it’s used against him or his allies and he uses it as a regular tool every day,” Schumer said. “But the President’s tactics and behavior should never be emulated. It should be repudiated by organized, well-informed and passionate advocacy.”

He encouraged Trump’s opponents to take the high road, as former first lady Michelle Obama has advocated.

“To opponents of the President’s policies, the best way to limit what he can do to show that America is not as coarse, as mean, as hypocritical as his behavior suggests, the best solution is to win elections,” Schumer said. “That is a far more productive way to channel the legitimate frustrations with the President’s policies than harassing members of his administration.”

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, suggested there could be “backlash” from voters against Waters for her remarks.

“Hopefully the voters will settle some of that when they will reward people they think are acting responsibly” and punish those who are acting irresponsibly, Cornyn said. “I think there could well be backlash associated with it.”