After an attempted House Republican effort to turn the national focus on the Derek Chauvin trial into an inquisition of Democratic politicians hoping avidly for justice for George Floyd, House Democrats pulled together to defeat a censure resolution aimed a veteran Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California for remarks she made about the verdict and its consequences.
Addressing a crowd in Minneapolis over the weekend, Waters said that protestors needed to “stay in the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin were to be acquitted. (Chauvin was subsequently convicted on two murder charges and one manslaughter charge.)
After Marjorie Taylor Greene called for Waters’s expulsion, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dialed it back to a censure resolution. Waters rejected the suggestion she was inciting violence, arguing instead that she simply wanting the struggle for justice to continue even if it was thwarted in this case. Meanwhile the censure drive was fed by trial judge Peter Cahill in Minneapolis, who said to Chauvin’s counsel after the jury was sent into its sequestered deliberations: “I give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this trial being overturned.”
But the resolution was defeated on a party-line 216-210 vote just before the Chauvin verdict was read aloud in court.
It appears that Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic caucus leaders succeeded in convincing a few wavering House Democrats that censuring Waters would implicitly forgive Republicans like Greene and Mo Brooks — and for that matter, Donald Trump — for their inflammatory comments on, before and after January 6’s insurrection at the Capitol. Waters’s self-identification with the tradition of non-violent protest as a Congressional Black Caucus leader was also probably a factor. Chauvin’s conviction likely makes the controversy moot, but the GOP effort to distract attention from the events of January 6 via whataboutism will likely continue.