- Several Republican lawmakers are either defending, refusing to condemn, or simply declining to comment on President Donald Trump‘s Tuesday tweet comparing the ongoing impeachment inquiry into him to a lynching.
- Trump’s tweet was immediately denounced as inaccurate, ahistorical, and extremely racially insensitive. Historians describe lynchings as a form of domestic terrorism.
- The first prominent Republican to back up Trump’s remarks was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said impeachment “is a lynching in every sense” and “un-American.”
- Here are some of the other GOP lawmakers who have defended or declined to condemn Trump’s comparison.
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Several Republican lawmakers are either defending, refusing to condemn, or simply declining to comment on President Donald Trump‘s Tuesday tweet comparing the ongoing impeachment inquiry into him to a lynching.
“So someday, 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,” Trump wrote.
Politico congressional reporter Burgess Everett and NBC reporter Frank Thorp asked several GOP Senators for their reactions on the lynching comparison. Here’s what they said:
- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said that lynching is “obviously a word with significant historical freight. The connotation the president is carrying forward is a political mob seeking an outcome regardless of facts. And that I think is an objectively true description of what is happening in the House right now.”
- Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said Trump’s comparison was, “Inappropriate. That’s not appropriate in any context.”
- Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said, “Obviously that’s hyperbole and some people might find it offensive. That’s my reaction…I’ve got a pretty high threshold when it comes to being offended around here. Otherwise it would be all day every day.”
- Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said, “The house democrats are clearly pushing really hard and playing politics with all this stuff…I get his frustration, I probably wouldn’t use that language.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “It’s not just racial my friends. No. I’m from South Carolina I understand it very well. Mob rule is what lynching is all about.”
- Sen. Tim Scott, also of South Carolina, said, “There’s no question that the impeachment process is the closet thing to a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process. I wouldn’t use the word lynching.”
- Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, “given the history of this in our country I would not compare it to a lynching. That was an unfortunate choice of words.”
- Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana declined to comment to reporters.
Trump’s tweet was immediately denounced as inaccurate, ahistorical, and extremely racially insensitive. Historians describe lynchings – or the public, extrajudicial hangings of black Americans during Reconstruction and Jim Crow – as a form of domestic terrorism.
A 2015 report from the Equal Justice Initiative documented 4,075 lynchings of African-Americans throughout 12 southern segregated states between 1877 and 1950.
“Lynchings were violent and public events that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. This was not “frontier justice” carried out by a few marginalised vigilantes or extremists,” the report explained. “Instead, many African Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators.”
The first prominent Republican to back up Trump’s remarks was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said,” African-Americans were lynched, other people have been lynched throughout history … that’s exactly what’s going on in the US House of Representatives right now”.
But some congressional Republicans have denounced Trump’s use of the term. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine wrote that “lynching” brings back images of a terrible time in our nation’s history, and the President never should have made that comparison.”
And Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an occasional critic of Trump, wrote “The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and [Trump] should retract this immediately. May God help us to return to a better way.”