Trump: House Probe Like 'Lynching' 10/23 06:18
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stirring up painful memories of America's racist past,
President Donald Trump on Tuesday compared the Democratic-led impeachment
inquiry to a lynching, a practice once widespread across the South in which
angry mobs killed thousands of black people.
The use of such inflammatory imagery to lash out at the House investigation
into Trump's dealings with Ukraine triggered an outcry from Democratic
legislators, some mild rebukes but also some agreement from the president's
Republican allies and condemnation from outside the Washington Beltway. It also
led to the unearthing of decades-old comments from some Democratic lawmakers,
including now-presidential candidate Joe Biden, comparing the process of
impeaching President Bill Clinton to a lynching.
Trump has spent recent days pressuring Republicans to give him stronger
support in countering the impeachment investigation.
His tweeted suggestion that they "remember what they are witnessing here ---
a lynching" came a day after Trump said the GOP needs to "get tougher and
fight" against the fast-moving inquiry into whether he tried to withhold U.S.
military aid until Ukraine's government agreed to investigate Biden and his son.
The White House said Tuesday that Trump was not comparing impeachment to
"one of the darkest moments in American history." Spokesman Hogan Gidley said
Trump sent the tweet to point out what he feels is his continued mistreatment
by the news media.
Trump, who has been complaining about unfairness in the impeachment process
being led by House Democrats began his tweet: "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
Fighting back Tuesday night, Trump's reelection campaign tweeted out a 1998
video of then-Sen. Biden talking about President Bill Clinton's impending
impeachment and saying, in part, "History is going to question whether or not
this was just a partisan lynching."
Earlier in the day, Biden referred to Trump's lynching comparison as
"abhorrent" and "despicable." Biden later tweeted that his own "lynching"
reference 21 years ago "wasn't the right word to use and I'm sorry about that."
But, he added: "Trump on the other hand chose his words deliberately today in
his use of the word lynching and continues to stoke racial divides in this
During his presidency, Trump has repeatedly sought to advance his political
interests by unleashing racially inflammatory language.
Over the summer, he told four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back
to their "broken and crime-infested" countries, although the four are U.S.
citizens. Earlier in his presidency, Trump unleashed a firestorm by saying
there were "very fine people" on both sides of a 2017 white supremacist rally
and counterprotest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of
an anti-racism demonstrator.
The reference to a lynching struck a deep, painful chord for black people
whose relatives died in racially motivated killings.
Malinda Edwards, whose father was forced to jump off an Alabama river bridge
in 1957 by Klansmen who heard that he had smiled at a white woman, said Trump
was making light of the horror experienced by victims.
"Either he's very ignorant or very insensitive or very racist and just
doesn't care," Edwards, 66, of Dayton, Ohio, said of the president. Her
father's name is now among those on a memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, honoring
more than 4,000 lynching victims.
Janet Langhart Cohen told The Associated Press that Trump is among too many
white people who have disrespected lynching victims and their descendants. Her
distant cousin Jimmy Gillenwaters was lynched in Kentucky in the early 1900s.
Trump "knows what he's doing. He knows how to hurt and divide," said Cohen,
the wife of former Republican Sen. William Cohen of Maine.
Bernice King, a daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted that
Trump's comparison "is a reflection of the very real trajectory of our nation
and the very repugnant evil of racism, which still permeates both legislation
and language in the United States."
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a black Republican, went a step
further by tweeting a graphic black-and-white photo of a black man hanging from
a tree and said: "This is a lynching. Trump this is not happening to you and
it's pathetic that you act like you're such a victim."
Trump's closest Republican backers in Congress agreed with him, though
others rejected his comparison.
"This is a lynching in every sense," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who
is close to Trump.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized Trump's
"unfortunate choice of words," saying it's better to describe the impeachment
process as "unfair."
Democrats expressed outrage that Trump would equate impeachment to a
lynching and called on him to delete the tweet or apologize.
"That is one word no president ought to apply to himself," said Democratic
Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking African American in
Congress. "That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using."
Added Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who is also black: "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."
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., tweeted to Trump: "No sir! No, @realDonaldTrump:
this is NOT a lynching, and shame on you for invoking such a horrific act that
was used as a weapon to terrorize and murder African Americans."
The Congressional Black Caucus encouraged Trump to visit the National
Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, also known as the "Lynching
Trump often tries to portray himself as the victim of any controversy he is
embroiled in. His tweet came one day after he lashed out at critics of his
now-rescinded plan to schedule a major international summit for 2020 at one of
his own properties in Florida.
He complained about people who invoke the "phony emoluments clause" --- a
section in the Constitution that forbids presidents from receiving gifts or
payments from foreign governments without the consent of Congress. The
impeachment process is also in the Constitution.
An anonymous whistleblower's complaint that Trump was attempting to use his
office for personal political gain during a July 25 phone conversation with
Ukraine's president led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open the impeachment
Trump insists he did nothing wrong, characterizing the conversation with
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as "perfect" and arguing that
sore-loser Democrats are still trying to overturn his 2016 election and deny
him reelection next year.
Separately Tuesday, a U.S. appeals court in Atlanta was considering whether
federal judges can order grand jury records unsealed in the mob lynching of two
black couples . The young black sharecroppers were stopped along a rural road
in 1946 by a white mob that dragged them out and shot them multiple times east
of Atlanta. More than 100 people reportedly testified before a grand jury, but
no one was ever indicted in the deaths of Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George
and Mae Murray Dorsey.