- Former Vice President Joe Biden condemned President Donald Trump’s use of the term “lynching” to describe the House’s impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, calling Trump’s comments “despicable.”
- In 1998, Biden similarly suggested that former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment was a “partisan lynching” in an interview with CNN, according to newly unearthed video along with a transcript seen by Insider.
- “[H]istory is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching or whether or not it was something that in fact met … the very high bar that was set by the founders as to what constituted an impeachable offence,” Biden said in 1998.
- Biden wasn’t the only high-profile Democrat to describe Clinton’s impeachment in these terms. Rep. Jerry Nadler called the potential releasing of a videotape during the impeachment proceedings a “lynch mob” in 1998 Reuters article.
- The term “lynching” is associated with the mob murders of black Americans by white people. There were 4,743 lynchings in the US between 1882 and 1968. The vast majority of the victims were black.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden condemned President Donald Trump’s use of the term “lynching” to describe the House’s impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. However, Biden used the same term back in 1998 to describe former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, newly-released video from CNN’sAndrew Kaczynski and a transcript seen by Insider.
“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 tweetedTuesday. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”
The remark sparked widespread outrage in Washington – among Democrats, black lawmakers, and even some Republicans. They argued the comparison between a constitutional impeachment process and a lynching was both historically inaccurate and deeply offensive.
The term “lynching” is associated with the mob murders of black Americans by white people. There were 4,743 lynchings in the US between 1882 and 1968, according to the NAACP. The vast majority of the victims were black.
“You are comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?” Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, a California Democrat, tweeted.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said lynching “brings back images of a terrible time in our nation’s history.” She added, “The President never should have made that comparison.”
Biden added his criticism on Tuesday afternoon.
“Impeachment is not ‘lynching,’ it is part of our Constitution,” Biden wrote. “Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It’s despicable.”
Impeachment is not "lynching," it is part of our Constitution. Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It's despicable. https://t.co/QcC25vhNeb
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 22, 2019
Amid the outrage sparked by Trump’s comments on Tuesday, the Trump campaign pointed out to NBC News that the phrase was previously used by two Democrats. A transcript of the CNN interview, a copy of a Reuters article, and the video from Kaczynski confirmed that Biden and Rep. Jerry Nadler used similar language during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings.
In 1998, Biden suggested that Clinton’s impeachment was a “partisan lynching” in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
The then-senator said “history is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching or whether or not it was something that in fact met the standard, the very high bar that was set by the founders as to what constituted an impeachable offence.”
Biden responded to the incident in a tweet, apologizing for his choice of words.
“This wasn’t the right word to use and I’m sorry about that,” Biden tweeted. “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 country daily.”
During a fight over the release of a videotape of Clinton during the proceedings, Nadler, now the House Judiciary Committee chairman, called the release of a tape “lynch mob.”
“There is no reason for the tape to be released other than to create maximum feasible embarrassment for the president,” Nadler said to Reuters in 1998, according to a copy of the article seen by Insider. He added that he could “see no evidence that the Republicans want to do anything other than organise a lynch mob.”
Nadler’s spokesperson didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment
“Don’t remember any Democrats complaining in 1998 when Jerry Nadler called the Clinton impeachment proceedings a ‘lynch mob,'” a senior Trump campaign official told NBC.
With additional reporting by J.K. Trotter.