- Waters called for impeachment years before President Trump called Ukraine. In an interview with Glamour, she discusses the probe, the election, and her own vindication.
Maxine Waters knew it would come to this. Since 1990 she has represented California in the U.S. House of Representatives. In that time she has seen President Bill Clinton weather impeachment, President George Bush drag us into endless war, and President Barack Obama survive the scandal of his tan suit. In other words, she can distinguish between real and partisan horror. And she has sounded the alarm on this president for years.
In May 2017 she asked, “Why would we let … Trump, a con man, come in here and turn it all upside down with his lies and his disrespect?” She would keep at it, she promised, “until he’s impeached.” In September 2017, at comedian Dick Gregory’s funeral, Waters said, “When I get through with Donald Trump, he’s going to wish he had been impeached.” In November 2017 she led more than a thousand people in an “Impeach 45!” chant at Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards. It took some time, but the House of Representatives has begun to heed her call.
But as much as Waters is vindicated, she is also under fire. The representative is a frequent target for such right-wing conservatives as Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, and the hordes of internet trolls who follow them. In October 2018, Waters was one of more than a dozen Trump critics who was sent a bomb — in fact she received two — in the mail. She tells Glamour she still gets death threats. But Waters is as resolute as ever: Now is no time to back down. Here, she talks impeachment, Republicans, and what’s next for America.
Glamour: From the beginning, you have been a voice in the wilderness, warning America about this president.
Rep. Maxine Waters: I watched this president all during the primaries and the way that he treated his peers. I watched him talk about grabbing women by their private parts. I’ve watched him name-call — he name-called me. I watched him promote violence at his rallies. I watched him embrace [Russian president Vladimir] Putin and refuse to denounce him even after our intelligence committee basically confirmed that the Russians had hacked into our election system.
And now I’m watching him, with this telephone call that really has gotten a lot more people into understanding and believing how dangerous he is, how corrupt he is. A tough call where he tried to talk the Ukrainian president into getting involved in some kind of phony investigation so that he could get dirt on [former vice president Joe] Biden.
Trump has tweeted that the whistleblower should be executed for treason. He’s suggested a civil war will break out if he is impeached. He has refused to cooperate with this probe. What is going to happen?
We have a president of the United States who would dare create this kind of chaos and danger just for his own self-interest. I’m calling on Republicans also to get this president under control. We need to be worried about that kind of threat. It is awful. It is horrible. It is unacceptable.
This man is dangerous. I’ve always known that he was not worthy of the presidency. He should not be in that seat. And so I started early, and I know that a lot of people, thought, Why is she talking about impeachment? Maybe they didn’t even understand that the Constitution gives us the responsibility to make a determination about whether someone holding that position is dangerous, whether they are worthy, whether or not they are acting in the best interest of their country, whether or not they are lying with foreigners and foreign interests.
And he was dangerous before he was president. Look at the way he treated African Americans—denying them the ability to rent the apartments from him and his father. The way that he basically committed fraud and took money from students who thought they could get an education at his fake university. It’s just so much.
That’s the question too, isn’t it? There is so much that’s been out there. There’s so much incredible reporting that’s been done to uncover his corruption, so why this? Why now? You’ve been calling for impeachment since the beginning. Why is this call with Ukraine the thing that pushed people over the edge?
The call connects the dots. I think that it’s helped people to understand that really Trump was asking a foreign power to get involved, to get dirt on what he thought would be his opponent. Then [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi, who had been against impeachment, saw that more of the members of Congress were saying, “Oh my goodness, now is the time.” And then of course the public also has continued to come onboard.
It’s all coming together around the call. And now that we know that the Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] and the Attorney General [William Barr] were involved in this corruption, I believe that this formal inquiry is going to lead to a resolution of impeachment that will be voted on by the House Judiciary Committee. The six committee chairs, who have been doing an investigation, will be involved in helping to identify what should go into any impeachment resolution.
Do you think it will be successful?
I really do. I really believe that.
You’ve experienced the danger of Trump’s rhetoric probably more than most people ever have. Just a quick glance at your Twitter mentions shows that this is the kind of vitriol that’s been lobbed at you. Last year you received two bombs in the mail. Are you worried?
In many ways I feel a bit vindicated. There were some people who didn’t understand why I was taking the position and why I was so strong on it. I feel that there’s maybe better understanding now. There will always be haters and threats on my life. And so I know that that is out there. I’m not flirting simply with danger for the sake of it. And I have enough sense to do what I can to have security, but I can never let the threat of danger of losing my life even stop me from saying and doing what I think makes good sense and what I believe is good for this country.
So, I’m not afraid. And I’m not going to stop saying and doing what I do. I just believe that many folks are now awakened to the danger of this president, and I feel good about that.
One argument against impeachment is that many people believe Vice President Mike Pence might be worse than Donald Trump. What do you think?
Pence is a right-wing conservative, who has played to the worst elements in our society. What I’ve said in the past was after we impeach Trump, we would go after Pence. But Pence is also involved in the scandal because he has been involved with some of the advisors to the Ukrainian president. I think Pence has a lot to answer to.
You think Pence will also get tossed out in this impeachment inquiry?
I think that he should be brought to account for what his role has been.
Impeachment has not been a very bipartisan effort. There are news reports that some Republicans would vote for impeachment in private. What are you hearing from your colleagues?
Republicans are not going to be able to hide when the case for impeachment is unveiled. I recently got stopped on the floor by a Republican lawmaker who basically said, “I haven’t always agreed with you, but keep doing what you’re doing. Go after it.” I think that they are silent because many of them understand that this president deserves to be impeached.
Pundits say that the center will never support impeachment, but I’ve always believed that if we connect the dots, put forward hard facts, and put information out there that can’t be refuted, we can convince them in the end.
Isn’t that frustrating? Lawmakers expecting you to do all the work while they hide?
I have learned in the many years that I have been involved in politics that we can’t count on a lot of people to have courage. And so they do not speak up. They do not stand up. They have to be dragged in, sometimes in the final moments of the decision.
But I’m not discouraged. I just listen to what they have to say and think to myself, “We’ll eventually get you in on this.”
This week of news has already been insane. Where do we go from here?
I think the focus will be on Pompeo and [Rudy] Giuliani and Barr and even Pence. I don’t know how they’re going to legitimately escape having to be subpoenaed, having to get their documents, having to get their records.
I think we’re in another era of a possible impeachment in which they could be charged with obstruction. And the consequences of not responding are going to be different.
You mean jail?
I don’t know exactly. I will be talking with Intelligence Committee about that. If they resist and they do not want to comply, after we know that they had some role in this, I think they should be arrested. I believe they should be arrested.
What do the American people need to be watching for in this process?
I’m on people to pay attention. I know that over the past two years as information has been revealed, there has been talk about the Kremlin and the oligarchs and the work that was done to deal with so many different individuals who were aligned in some way with Trump. It is tiring and confusing. And there are some people who have been frustrated with the news and who just said, “Nothing’s going to happen with all this. I just can’t deal with this anymore.”
I want them to pay attention and I want them to follow it very closely and I want them to understand exactly what is going on and what has been said by who and what is being unveiled about the relationship between Pompeo and Barr and the president and effort to get the Ukrainian president involved in the scheme. I’d love for people to just not walk away.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Source: Lyz Lenz, Glamour