WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump enraged Democrats on Tuesday by comparing their impeachment inquiry to a lynching, assigning the horrors of a deadly and racist chapter in U.S. history to a process laid out in the Constitution.
“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” he said.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., called on Trump to delete the tweet.
“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,” wrote Rush, who is also black.
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.”
Republican legislators largely tried to put the focus on what they said was the unfair way in which Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s description was “pretty well accurate.” He called the impeachment effort a “sham” and a “joke” because the president does not know the identity of his accuser, and the process is playing out in private.
Lynchings, or hangings, were used mostly by whites against black men in the South, beginning in the late 19th century amid rising racial tensions. By comparing his possible impeachment to a lynching, Trump also likened Democrats to a lynch mob.
Under pressure over impeachment, blowback over his Syria policy and other issues, the Republican president tweeted Tuesday: “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.
“All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”
Trump has a habit of trying to portray himself as the victim.
His tweet came a day after he lashed out at critics of his decision — since rescinded — to schedule a major international economic summit for 2020 at one of his Florida golf properties. During remarks Monday, he lamented people who invoke the “phony emoluments clause.”
The clause is in the Constitution and bans presidents from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments, without the consent of Congress. Impeachment and its process are also in the Constitution.
A 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 inquiry.
Trump insists he did nothing wrong. He has characterized the conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as “perfect” and argues that sore-loser Democrats are still trying to overturn the 2016 election that put him in the White House and keep him from winning a second term next year.
Lynchings were fueled by anger toward blacks across the South, where many whites blamed their financial problems on newly freed slaves living around them, the NAACP notes.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, a U.S. appeals court in Atlanta was to consider 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.