Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida on Sunday relayed to an enthusiastic audience a joke about President Donald Trump drowning in the Potomac River.
Hastings, speaking at a “Stronger Together” campaign rally in South Florida, said he had recently heard a joke from the son of a former state legislator.
“Do you know the difference between a crisis and a catastrophe?” Hastings said, according to video of the remarks on YouTube.
Quoting the joke’s author, he answered, “A crisis is if Donald Trump falls into the Potomac River and can’t swim,” while “a catastrophe is anybody saves his a-.”
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Hastings emceed the event, according to the Sun Sentinel. Other guests included Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and four of the five Democratic candidates for governor, the newspaper noted, though these figures had left by the time Hastings cracked his joke about the president, which he reserved for the end.
Hastings also asserted: “There is no question that something is tragically wrong with the president of the United States in his mind.”
The 13-term congressman is no stranger to controversy. In 1989, he was removed from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida when the Democratic-controlled House impeached him, and the Senate convicted, on charges of bribery and perjury.
Hastings first attempted to resurrect his career in public service by running for secretary of state of Florida in 1990, losing in a three-way Democratic primary. He was then elected to the House in 1992, defeating his Republican opponent in the deep-blue district in southeast Florida after coming out ahead in a run-off in the Democratic primary.
In 2008, he apologized for incendiary comments about Sarah Palin, the then-GOP vice presidential nominee. In remarks on a panel at the annual conference of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Hastings had warned, “Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through.”
In 2011, a former congressional aide, Winsome Packer, filed a complaint against the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the Helsinki Commission, complaining that Hastings, its chairman at the time, had sexually harassed her. She was ultimately awarded $220,000, while lawyers for Hastings argued that he was treated unfairly when moderately inappropriate comments were blown out of proportion.
Hastings’ remarks are not the first time someone has insinuated harm to the president through discussion or depiction. Perhaps the most inflammatory incident during the Trump administration was Kathy Griffin’s grisly photo shoot, in which the comedian and actress posed holding a mask of Trump’s severed head in May 2017. She apologized but was booted by CNN from her longstanding gig co-hosting the network’s New Year’s Eve program.
Hastings has been an outspoken critic of Trump. In 2016, he referred to the then-GOP nominee as a “sentient pile of excrement,” according to the Sun Sentinel. He boycotted the inauguration.
His office didn’t immediately return a request for comment Monday morning.