U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention on Feb. 24, 2018, in San Diego. (AP/Denis Poroy) U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention on Feb. 24, 2018, in San Diego. (AP/Denis Poroy)

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention on Feb. 24, 2018, in San Diego. (AP/Denis Poroy)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher February 10, 2020

Maxine Waters' remarks about Trump and Pence were about impeachment, not inciting violence

If Your Time is short

 

  • Rep. Maxine Waters did not say this exact quote, but available reports indicate she said something similar at a National Newspaper Publishers Association event in September 2018.

  • Waters made her remark — and many other remarks like this — in reference to impeachment. She was an early and vocal advocate for lawful removal of President Donald Trump using Congress’ power to impeach.

  • There is no evidence Waters was recommending violence.

A viral post on Facebook claims that U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters made a violence-inciting remark about President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The image shows an image of the California Democrat standing at a podium. It attributes this quote to her, saying she said it Sept. 17, 2018:

"I say, we knock off Trump and then, go after Pence. We have the power."

Below the quote, the post says: 

"Yes, she actually said this and then blames President Trump for inciting violence.

"Worth repinning! Why isn’t she in jail??"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Waters was one of the earliest elected officials supporting impeachment of Trump, calling for it just a few months after he took office in January 2017. While she didn’t make this exact comment, it appears she did say something similar, but it was in the context of impeachment, not violence. Waters called for Trump’s impeachment during a September 2018 event of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents African American-owned community newspapers.

"All I want for him and about him is to be impeached and get him out of the White House," she said, according to a Sept. 17, 2018 article by Fox News. It continues to say that Waters said she would "go after" Pence if Trump were to be removed from office.

The article — like other websites that reported on the speech — embedded a YouTube video of her comments in the report. But that video is no longer available online. We searched Google and the Nexis news archives and found that the most extensive reporting about Waters’ address came from conservative websites.

The American Mirror, a conservative blog by Kyle Olson, reported that after Waters said, "All I want for him and about him is to be impeached and get him out of the White House!"she dismissed criticism that an ousted Trump would make Pence president. Then, according to the website:

"Knock off the first one, and then go after the second one," she said.

"We have the power. We have the numbers, but we’ve got to understand our power and we’ve got to use our power."

We reached out to the National Newspaper Publishers Association to see if we could get more information about exactly what Waters said, but the organization did not respond to our request for information.

Waters has made similar statements, before and since. Each of them were also in the context of impeachment:

Aug. 4, 2017: Interviewed on "The View" TV show, Waters had this exchange with co-host Joy Behar.

Behar: "Do you think Pence will be better than Trump if he were impeached?"

Waters: "No. And when we finish with Trump we have to go and get Putin. He’s next."

Behar: "Putin or Pence?" 

Waters: "Uh, Pence."

Oct. 20, 2017: Speaking at an event for homeless LGBTQ people in honor of a man named Ali Forney:

"Wow, what a moving evening this is. I'm sitting here listening, watching, absorbing, thinking about Ali even though I never met him. And with this kind of inspiration, I will go and take out Trump tonight."

(CNN published the quote based on a video that has since been removed from YouTube.)

In an interview four days later, Waters rejected the idea that she was vowing harm to Trump: "That's absolutely ridiculous ... that a 79-year-old grandmother who is a congresswoman and who has been in Congress and politics all these years doing any harm. The only harm I might be doing to the president is I want him impeached."

Sept. 8, 2018: Speaking at a Democratic club event:

Referring to the "highest office of the land," Waters said (starting at the 13:45 mark in the video): "I wake up in the middle of the night and all I can think about is I am going to get him."

About a minute later, Waters told the group that "leadership" had asked her not to say the word "impeachment" anymore. "And when they say that, I say ‘impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment,’" she said to laughter. 

Waters also said she was told that if Trump were impeached, Pence would be worse. "And I said, look, one at a time. You knock one down and then we’ll be ready for Pence. We’ll get him, too.

Waters’ office did not respond to our requests for information.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed that Waters said in September 2018: "I say, we knock off Trump and then, go after Pence. We have the power."

We found no record that Waters made this exact statement. However, Fox News reported that Waters said something similar about Trump: "All I want for him and about him is to be impeached and get him out of the White House," and that she would "go after" Pence if Trump were to be removed from office.

While Waters has repeatedly stated her intention to "get" Trump and/or Pence, it has been in the context of Congress exercising its power to impeach a president and not, as the viral post suggests, to advocate violence. 

We rate the statement Half True.

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Maxine Waters' remarks about Trump and Pence were about impeachment, not inciting violence

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