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Maxine Waters may be just one of 435 members of Congress, but President Donald Trump has elevated the profile of the California Democrat.
In March, at a campaign rally in southwestern Pennsylvania, Trump called Waters — a fierce opponent and the president’s ideological opposite — "a very low-I.Q. individual."
"You ever see her?" Trump continued, to boos aimed at Waters. "You ever seen her? You ever see her? 'We will impeach him! We will impeach the president!' But he hasn't done anything wrong. ‘It doesn't matter, we will impeach him!’ She's a low I.Q. individual. You can't help it. She really is."
Given Waters’ role as a foil for Trump, she has become fodder for social media posts by Trump’s allies.
One we came across was the following post that appeared on May 15, 2018, on the Facebook page "Judge Jeanine Pirro has Fans." This Facebook group bills itself as an independent fan page for Pirro, a Fox News host who is closely allied with Trump.
According to the Facebook group’s "about" page, "Judge Jeanine Pirro is out spoken and always on target. This site will expound on what the Judge is talking about and report what mainstream media won't." The group counted 713,110 followers when we first saw the post.
The post shows what appeared to be a screenshot of a CNN appearance by Waters with host Anderson Cooper. The chyron at the bottom of the screen said, "Maxine Waters 2020," and the meme offered the following dialogue:
Anderson: "If elected what would your first act as President be?"
Waters: "Well Anderson, I would impeach Donald Trump."
The group shared the image by saying, "And we pay her a salary!"
The problem: Waters never said anything of the sort.
The image appears to be from a real newscast on April 19, 2017, when Cooper interviewed Waters about Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News.
But the chyron "Maxine Waters 2020" is fake. The original chyron said, "Bill O’Reilly Out at Fox News."
The meme aims to make it look like Waters actually said that she would impeach Trump if elected president, which would be nonsensical. Obviously, there would be no need to impeach Trump if she either defeated him or succeeded him after he left office. Also, it’s up to Congress to impeach the president.
Waters has called for investigations that could lead to Trump’s impeachment, but on several occasions — including an interview with the platform Cheddar and a rally at the U.S. Capitol — she called for Trump’s impeachment directly. When she denied on MSNBC in April 2017 that she had called for Trump’s impeachment, we rated her claim Pants on Fire.
We found no evidence that Waters is seriously considering a run for president. While she has occasionally joked about it, she shot down the idea during an appearance on The View in August 2017. (Her office did not respond to an inquiry for this article; nor did the administrator for the Pirro fan site)
Snopes.com noted that the meme appeared elsewhere before the Pirro fan site picked it up. The faked dialogue seems to have initially started as a joke in a May 11 tweet, and a version with the Cooper-Waters visual was retweeted May 14 by Fox News host Brian Kilmeade (he added: "genius"), earning more than 900 retweets and more than 3,000 likes.
Viral social media posts said Maxine Waters told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her first act as president would be to "impeach Donald Trump."
This exchange never happened; it appears to have emerged as a joke that was eventually attached to a screenshot of an unrelated interview. In any case, the comments are nonsensical and may have more to do with making Waters look unintelligent than with the actual impeachment process.
We rate it Pants on Fire.
"Judge Jeanine Pirro has Fans" Facebook group, post, May 15, 2018
RealClearPolitics, "Trump: "Maxine Waters A Very Low I.Q. Individual," March 10, 2018
Anderson Cooper 360, episode transcript, April 19, 2017 (accessed via Nexis)
Anderson Cooper 360, tweet, April 19, 2018
USA Today, "Rep. Maxine Waters says she isn't running for president," Aug. 4, 2017
Alex Griswold, tweet, May 11, 2018
Brian Kilmeade, tweet, May 14, 2018
Snopes, "Did Maxine Waters Say She Would Impeach Trump If She Became President?" May 15, 2018
PolitiFact, "Maxine Waters wrong to say she has 'not called for' Trump's impeachment," April 19, 2017
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