Donald Trump called the impeachment inquiry against him a “lynching” in a tweet Tuesday, drawing immediate criticism from those who don’t see the relationship between a constitutional process and terrorism against black Americans.
“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!”
Trump was quickly rebuked by Democrats and at least one Republican for his shameless self-pity and ignorance of the legacy of lynching.
“You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING? What the hell is wrong with you?” tweeted Representative Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat who founded the state’s chapter of the Black Panthers. “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.”
Democratic New York congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke tweeted: “Using this term draws up some of America’s darkest history—Trump is yet again a disgrace and massively offensive.”
Southern Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn was on CNN when Trump sent the tweet, and was asked to react. “That is one word no president ought to apply to himself,” said Clyburn, who was a civil-rights activist before he reached his teens. “I’m not just a politician. I’m a southern politician. I’m a product of the South. I know the history of that word. That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using.”
Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger tweeted that Trump “should retract” his tweet immediately. “We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits,” he wrote. “But never should we use terms like ‘lynching’ here.”
As more members of Congress were asked to react to Trump’s tweet, reliable defenders emerged ready to get behind him. “I think that’s pretty well accurate,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “This is a sham. This is a joke… So yeah, this is a lynching and in every sense this un-American…”
Sen. Ted Cruz attempted to play Trump interpreter, telling reporters that “lynching” is “obviously a word with significant historical freight.” He went on: “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”
Trump has previously called the impeachment inquiry a “fraud,” a “hoax,” a “coup,” and a “witch hunt.” His escalation to “lynching” comes as acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor is set to provide private testimony to the House Tuesday. In text messages with other U.S. diplomats released to Congress, Taylor wrote that it’s “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”