The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Tuesday blamed the media for overhyping the fallout over Rep. Maxine Waters's ethics trial.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a statement that people should not prejudge Waters (D-Calif.), a member of the CBC, until the ethics process plays out.
“The House of Representatives has a long-standing and well established ethics process, which should be allowed to proceed without prejudging the outcome," she said. "Although the alleged charges remain unclear, some in the media have sought to indict Congresswoman Waters in clear disregard of her right to a fair and due process."
The House ethics committee announced Monday that it was arranging a trial for Waters on allegations that she used her position to help out a failing bank in which her husband was heavily invested. Waters rejected a deal with the committee and claimed that she would go before a public trial.
Observers have said that Waters's decision could put Democrats in a tough spot heading into the midterm elections. She is the second CBC member, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) being the other, who faces an ethics trial before November.
But Lee warned that the trial should be allowed to take place before the press and others judge whether or not Waters is guilty.
In a lengthy statement issued Monday, Waters insisted she did not break House rules.
“I have not violated any House rules,” Waters said in a statement released Monday, minutes after the ethics committee posted a report finding “substantial reason to believe” a violation occurred.
“Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing," she added.
Lee called Waters a "tireless and effective advocate for underrepresented and underserved communities and institutions.
"She continues to be an important voice on those and many other issues and should not have her rights usurped by politicians or the press," the six-term lawmaker said.