House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) on Monday said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has nothing to apologize for in response to criticism from Republicans over remarks she made in Minnesota over the weekend.
"No, she doesn't," Pelosi said when asked by a reporter if Waters needs to apologize for saying activists for racial justice need to "get more confrontational" when advocating for police reforms.
"That woman on the floor should be apologizing for what she said," Pelosi then said, referencing comments by Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), who spoke shortly after Pelosi gaveled the House into session for the day.
"Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement," Pelosi said, returning to Waters. "I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They've handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or lack of — misinterpretation by the other side. No, I don't think she should apologize."
Asked if the Waters comments could incite violence, Pelosi said, "No, absolutely not."
Waters on Sunday told a group of protesters and journalists in Brooklyn Center, Minn., where a 20-year-old Black man was shot and killed by a police officer last week, "We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business."
The Twin Cities area in Minnesota is bracing for a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murder in the killing of George Floyd last may.
Republicans have seized on the Waters remarks, and McClain on Monday criticized the California Democrat for the comments.
"Once again, this weekend, we saw a member of the majority openly call for more confrontation in a Minneapolis suburb," McClain said during her floor speech. "That very night, there was a drive-by shooting in that community where police and the National Guardsmen were targeted. If this were reversed, if this was said by a Republican, you know that the majority in this chamber would move to strip that representative of their committees and possibly to expel them from Congress."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier on Monday accused Waters of "inciting violence" with her comments and called on Pelosi to disavow them.
Waters responded to the Republican criticism in an interview on Monday, saying members of the GOP who expressed outrage at her assertions were attempting to "send a message" to white supremacists.
“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 said.