Calling Donald Trump a “man of flawed character” and predicting his eventual impeachment, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters held court for more than an hour Saturday at the Black Political Caucus banquet in Charlotte.
Like a seasoned comedian with a time-tested monologue, the California congresswoman battered the nation’s 45th president with everything she had, rarely wavering from her underlying message that Trump, arguably our most divisive president in modern times, is unfit to serve. But this was no stand-up performance.
Like many of his harshest critics, Waters, 79, genuinely dislikes the man who occupies the Oval Office, and she doesn’t mind saying so to anyone willing to listen. It is precisely her forthright manner and cut-to-the-bone criticism of Trump that has earned her admiration and praise from a generation of young people who affectionately call her “Auntie Maxine.”
“It’s unusual for elected officials to step outside of the box,” she said in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. “The millennials keep telling me for the most part they’ve never heard someone talk like that before.”
From the moment she stood behind the podium in Charlotte, Waters made it clear this would be no drive-by assault. Her audience had come to see vintage Maxine, and vintage Maxine was what they got.
“I’m going to ask you to sit back, be patient, and hear from me why I’ve decided to take on Trump,” she said to the cheering crowd.
Trump was not Waters’ only target that night, though he (and his Washington team) was her primary target. At one point she led the sold-out room in a chant of “Impeach 45!”
Waters also excoriated the efforts of North Carolina’s Republican-controlled General Assembly, which passed some of the nation’s most repressive voter-suppression laws – laws eventually struck down by federal judges who found they targeted black voters. And she spoke passionately about the need for African Americans who oppose Trump to turn out en masse in 2018 to send a clear message to the president.
“We’re not going to back up,” she said. “Not only do we believe that this country belongs to all of us… we also have to send a message that now is our time… Like I said, you come for me, and I’ll come for you. He came for us. He said we couldn’t do anything about him. Now it’s our time to go for him.”
Here are some excerpts from Waters’ speech:
Trump’s initial trip to Texas after Hurricane Harvey
“Not once did we see Trump comfort those who endured the storm. Nor did we hear him acknowledge the lives that were lost in his rally speech. The only thing he did was make another empty promise to donate one million from his personal fortune to the Texas recovery efforts. But none of us are holding our breaths. He said the same thing in 2012 to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and he promised to donate one million to a veterans group while he was on the campaign trail. All parties are still waiting for those funds.”
Trumps decision to pardon Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio
“During the hurricane last week, we also learned that the president pardoned one of the most deplorable human beings in this country — Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio, who we all know is a notorious racist. He and Trump were at the forefront of the racist birther movement, which challenged the legitimacy of President Obama. Arpaio is infamous for his brutal treatment of inmates in his jail, which he called a concentration camp, and he was recently convicted of ignoring a court order to stop racial profiling of Latinos. He hadn’t even been sentenced before Trump came to his rescue with a pardon, while Houston faced a hurricane… All of these actions indicate that Trump is a man with flawed character and no good balance, and he has no business serving in the office he now holds. It has only been seven months, or 225 days, since he was sworn in, and this country has already suffered through lies, scandals and chaos from this White House, the likes of which we have never seen before.”
Those on his staff who have quit or been fired
“Poor Sean Spicer. He quit. I felt sorry for him myself. Not only could he not get it quite right, but after he had taken hit after hit after hit from this president, the president threw him under the bridge. He tried to hang on, but I know it was hard to go home to his wife and say, ‘I’m mad, and I’m not going to take this.’ So I don’t know when the final moment came, but it was probably when his wife said, ‘You’d better not go back.'”
“He barely lasted 10 days. He came off strong. He was the well-dressed slickster from New York, and he knew how to manage everybody. But when they unveiled that his language was beneath the gutter, and some of the things he said, they couldn’t hold on to him. And the press was tearing him apart. And so Scaramucci had to go back to New York and talk about he wanted to be a good communications director and he didn’t realize when he was talking that he was on the record. If you’re that smart, you ought to know whether or not you’re on the record.”
Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.
“Don’t think that he’s firing them because they are alt-right or they are white nationalists, they are basically part of all that going on with the Ku Klux Klan and everything. They are going to be working with him from the outside. Don’t think he has fired them. He (Trump) is one of them. I want you to pay attention to what they all do once they have left the White House.”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly
“When Trump announced that Gen. John Kelly would be taking over as White House chief of staff, many people began to say that Kelly would bring order to this White House and that Trump would somehow become presidential. However, as the saying goes: the fish stinks from the head down. And really, it doesn’t matter who they bring in, whether it’s John Kelly or the pope, Trump will never be presidential. He will never change. He has demonstrated time and time again who he is. He has behaved unconscionable. He is dragging down our institutions and threatening our national security. He has insulted our allies and attacked the free press. He has even targeted his own party leadership on Capitol Hill. He has even courted white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the KKK and other alt-right, white nationalist groups from the White House.”
Events in Charlottesville, Va.
“Who would ever have believed that a sitting president of the United States in the 21st Century would have to be pressured to condemn white supremacists and the KKK after an act of domestic terror that resulted in the death of a young woman? Something is really wrong with this man. Instead of easing our nation’s pain for what we endured, Donald Trump exacerbated racial tensions and equated the victims to the racists.”
That night Trump stalked Hillary Clinton on stage during the presidential debate
“Boy, I wish I would have whispered in her ear… Remember when Michelle Obama said — and she’s a very nice lady — she said, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ Let me tell you what a few people told me the other day: ‘When they go low, we go lower.'”
Trump, and his infamous question to African American voters
“What do we have to lose? Well, I tell you; now we know, for sure, what we have to lose. Ladies and gentlemen, this is number 45 — the president of the United States. And as a black woman who has served in Congress for many years and worked with all types of men and women, I’m more than concerned and outraged about the future of our country under this dishonorable man, and this is why I have decided to take on Trump. I said it to my colleagues, and I think I said it to the press — the gloves are off. It’s not about being concerned about my career; it’s not about being concerned about whether I’m going to be liked by anybody. I am totally offended by him. I cannot live as a representative, a member of Congress, working on behalf of all of the people, and put up with this man who disrespects us all. And so I’ve decided, no matter what comes, I’m going after him, I’m going to be consistent with it, I’m not going to stop, and I’m going to encourage everybody to reclaim your time. This is your time to talk about who we are and the respect that we deserve and how we have helped to make this country what it is, the sacrifices that we and our forefathers and mothers have made.”
The prospect of impeachment
“Everyday we learn more about this president and his allies. I always said that Trump would lead us right to his own impeachment. We just need to connect the dots… I believe that in the final analysis, once a thorough investigation is completed, that Donald Trump will be impeached.”
“I remain encouraged that our best days are still head of us. This is because I know that African Americans will not sit back and allow our country to be destroyed by Donald Trump. We have fought too long and too hard to be shut down and to be shut up. And we refuse to allow this man to undermine everything that we have gained and our foreparents have fought so hard for in this Democracy. As Donald Trump parades across this country, claiming that he alone will make America great again, what he needs to understand is that African Americans have already done more to make this country great than he will ever do.”
The fight ahead
“African Americans have stood up and fought because we have an unwavering commitment to this country and because we believe in its promise of equality and justice for all. And that’s exactly what we will continue to do. In order to do so, we must continue to keep our communities engaged and make sure that African Americans are voting our power. We are the base of the Democratic party, and the 2018 elections are our first opportunity since he’s been elected to truly make our voices heard. Democrats must regain the House and the Senate in order to stop Donald Trump from destroying our country.”