During a rally in Fargo, North Dakota on Wednesday evening, President Trump pushed a blatant lie about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and then tried to gaslight his listeners about his own history of calling for violence against protesters and his political opponents.
“Maxine — she’s a beauty,” Trump said. “I mean, she practically was telling people the other day to assault! Can you imagine if I said the things she said? ‘We demand that he immediately drop out of the race!'”
Trump’s characterization of Waters’ comments is a lie. She did not wish “assault” upon Trump or his supporters. Instead, at a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday, she responded to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders being asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia by urging people to make it uncomfortable for Trump cabinet members to be in public.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” she said. “And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.”
Trump’s suggestion about how he’d have to drop out of politics if he said anything similar is also a lie. Trump has a long history of directly calling for or obliquely alluding to the possibility of violence against protesters. In one infamous case, he called for violence against his political opponent Hillary Clinton.
During a rally in August 2016, Trump infamously suggested that “Second Amendment people” — gun owners — might be the last line of defense against Hillary Clinton and the gun-curtailing judges she’d nominate. He also encouraged violence against demonstrators, urging supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters during a February 2016 rally and promising to pay for the legal fees of anyone who did it.
A couple weeks after that incident, Trump wished physical harm upon a protester, saying in reference to one that he’d “like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.”
“You know what they used to do to a guy like that in a place like this?” Trump added. “They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
He’s recently alluded to violence against Waters herself. On Monday, Trump responded to her’ remarks by issuing a thinly-veiled threat against the congresswoman.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party,” Trump tweeted. “She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Trump has repeatedly called Waters “a low IQ individual” in speeches, and his rhetoric has had an impact — in April, a man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Waters because of her opposition to Trump.