California Rep. Maxine Waters Says She'll Fight Back Against Trump
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now we'd like to get a view from the other side of the political aisle, so we're going to turn now to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She is a Democrat from California in her 13th term. She is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. She is among the six-dozen Democratic lawmakers who boycotted yesterday's inauguration. She did participate in the women's march today.
We spoke to her earlier today in our NPR studios in Washington, D.C., before she headed out to the march. And I started by asking her about statements she's made recently saying she wants as little to do with the Trump administration as possible. And I asked her what about policies that might benefit her constituents?
MAXINE WATERS: It's on him. If he really has an agenda to help, let him move forward with it. We'll see. But right now, I don't believe him. I don't trust him. Just yesterday in an administrative order, he overturned what the FHFA had done to reduce the premiums on people with FHA loans. And so if he's going to help poor people, why would he take away about $500 from the average home buyer, middle-class people? So if he's got a program and an agenda and an infrastructure and all of that that he's going to do, let him come forward.
If he comes forward and if he does that, then, of course, there will be some engagement. Otherwise, their only engagement I'm going to have with him is fighting back against their attempts to undo Dodd-Frank, their attempts to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and all of those things.
MARTIN: I noted, though, that other strong critics of Donald Trump did attend the inauguration. Hillary Clinton went. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders went. I saw Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. I saw Congressman James Clyburn, all of whom have been critics of Donald Trump. Do you think they should have boycotted as well?
WATERS: No. I think that people should do what their heart and soul tells them to do. I know some people like to follow the tradition, and that's who they are. That's not me. I'm not against anybody having gone, but, for me, it was not the right place to be.
MARTIN: So let's turn to the women's march today. What is your message and what do you think the march is intended to do?
WATERS: Well, first, let me just say that I flew in from Los Angeles last evening. And the plane was absolutely filled with women who were coming from the Greater Los Angeles area to be here. And it wasn't that they were necessarily organized in some particular group. Individual women that I talked to - I said, well, who are you with? They said I'm not with anybody. I just decided I couldn't stay home. I just got up, and I came.
So I was very impressed with that that, you know, women have come here to say that we're going to fight you, Donald Trump. We know who you are and what you said you will do. And we don't want the public policy that you are proposing.
MARTIN: Well, you know, some consider it disrespectful. For example, our previous guest former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina also criticized Donald Trump during the campaign, but now she was arguing that the new president deserves a chance to prove himself, and that, perhaps, you know, having a march just the day after his inauguration is kind of disrespectful. And I wonder what do you say to that?
WATERS: Well, I would say this. Donald Trump has defined himself very well, not only in the primary election where he was absolutely disrespectful to his colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle and for Fiorina who he basically said who would vote for you? Look at her face. She evidently wants to be a Republican leadership, a part of the Republican Party so bad that she would allow them and him to get away with that.
MARTIN: Well, she didn't attend the inauguration either, but her argument is that he does deserve it now that he is the president.
WATERS: That's not a good argument. She can argue it all she wants, but I don't believe that.
MARTIN: But the broader question of those who argue that he should be given a chance maybe I guess - I don't know. How would you call it? Like a honeymoon period of...
WATERS: Listen, let me tell you something. I don't have to give him a chance. I can't stop him from doing what he wants to do. If he wants to do good things, let's see it. Let him do it. I can't stop him from doing good things.
MARTIN: There's a debate among Democrats about how they should approach this new administration. Some are arguing that the Democrats should resist at every turn, and some Democrats are saying that's the strategy that Democrats should now employ. Others say that that's not good for the country and that they should work with this new administration on policies...
MARTIN: ...That would help their constituents...
WATERS: Sure, sure.
MARTIN: ...And resist him on others. What's your take on this?
WATERS: Well, my take is this. They control the Senate. They have the majority of the House, and they have the White House. They can do whatever they want to do, really. And so let's see what they are going to do. If they're going to put together great programs, and everybody understands that they're good and they (unintelligible) infrastructure (unintelligible) - do it. If they do that, we certainly are going to vote for it. We're going to vote for something good, but it remains to be seen.
MARTIN: That is Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. She was kind enough to join us here at our studios in Washington, D.C., in advance of today's women's march in Washington in which she will be participating. Congressman, thank you so much for speaking with us.
WATERS: You're so welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.