Trump compares impeachment inquiry to ‘a lynching’
While fuming Tuesday morning about the House Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry, President Trump declared the probe a “lynching,” prompting outcry at the inflammatory language.
“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights,” Trump tweeted. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”
The comment came just hours before Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was scheduled to testify in the inquiry behind closed doors. In text messages released earlier this month, Taylor expressed concern to another diplomat about Trump withholding military aid to Ukraine while asking the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Taylor texted that it was "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
Trump had previously referred to the impeachment inquiry as a "hoax," "coup" and "witch hunt."
“Lynching” refers to the murder of thousands of newly-freed African American slaves in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In February, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would make lynching a federal crime. The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which was led by African-American Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Tim Scott, has yet to be voted on in the House.
“The crime of lynching succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction,” the legislation reads.
Trump's "lynching" tweet immediately drew widespread criticism.
"You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING? What the hell is wrong with you?" Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., tweeted. "Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet."
"We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted. "But never should we use terms like 'lynching' here. The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and @realDonaldTrump should retract this immediately. May God help us to return to a better way."
“That is one word no president ought to apply,” said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who was on CNN when Trump's tweet landed. “I’ve studied presidential history quite a bit, and I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite like this.”
Clyburn noted that the three previous presidents who have faced impeachment — Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton — never referred to the process in such a way.
He added: “This president is, hopefully, an anomaly.”