LOS ANGELES — The president gave Rep. Maxine Waters the spotlight and she used it to blast him in an interview and a blistering speech before the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Before rallying an audience of more than 1,000 people at HRC’s fundraiser held at the J.W. Marriott (Olympian Gus Kenworthy called it a "mic drop moment"), Waters spoke backstage with The Advocate exclusively about the president’s latest attack on her intelligence.
During a speech in Pennsylvania earlier in the afternoon, Trump called the California congresswoman “a very low I.Q. individual.” He seemed especially bothered by her repeated calls for impeachment — which Waters not only doubled down on in the interview but then expanded her suggestions of wrongdoing to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who she said is “in danger.”
Waters specifically called out Kushner over the required disclosure forms he filed (and re-filed) to work in the White House. “In addition to maybe having left things out, I think he may have lied on his disclosure,” she said. Waters accused him of also lying while under oath when facing three hours of questions from the House Intelligence Committee in July.
“I believe that he's lying and that he has lied,” she told The Advocate. Waters suggested the special counsel’s charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort could impact Kushner. “I believe that Kushner can be caught having lied, and I think he can be caught involved I think in some of the money laundering involved with Manafort,” she said.
That’s exactly the kind of talk that appears to perturb Trump. He complained to an audience during a campaign-style rally in Moon Township, Penn., that "We have to defeat Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, a very low I.Q. individual.“ The audience booed Waters’ name. “Ever see 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."
It wasn’t the first time Trump went after Waters’s brains.
“He started with at the Gridiron when he said I need to have an I.Q. test,” recalled Waters before taking the stage in Los Angeles. Waters said “I’m not surprised at all” about being attacked, or that Trump would belittle her intelligence. “I’ve been saying some things about him for a while. I think it's gotten to him, finally. I’ve been very vocal, and I’ve been very confrontational almost. And I've been on the point calling for his impeachment, and I think that bothers him a lot. What I'm told about his speech in Pennsylvania was that he kept saying, ‘she keeps calling for impeachment,’ so I think it bothers him.”
And with that, Waters reiterated her call for impeachment. "I've always believed that there was enough there certainly to impeach him, and I believe even more so now that Mueller has been more than connecting the dots," she said. "This latest revelation about the secret meeting in the Seychelles was very very telling." Waters is using her moment in Trump's spotlight to note reports that adviser Erik Prince might have lied while testifying under oath to Congress, having insisted a meeting there had not been intended to set up a back channel with Russia.
Waters then went on stage for the HRC fundraiser and ripped Trump for much of her 20 minutes. At one point she powered through a huge list of Trump controversies, naming everything from his bragging about grabbing women to the Russia investigation. “I am not going to back down,” she promised. “I believe that all of us deserve better than Donald Trump.”
The kicker got the biggest applause, though. Waters said she had great faith in Mueller’s investigation, but hinted at a backup plan. “In the final analysis I think he is going to get him. And if for some reason he is not able to get him, I’m counting on Stormy (Daniels) to do it.”
Watch the entire HRC speech in the video below.
NEAL BROVERMAN contributed to this report.