Trump compares impeachment probe to ‘lynching,’ again prompting political firestorm around race thumbnail

Trump compares impeachment probe to ‘lynching,’ again prompting political firestorm around race

It was the latest example of Trump’s erratic and impromptu impeachment response, which has unnerved and hamstrung Republicans tasked with trying to defend him.Republicans from Capitol Hill to the White House spent much of Tuesday answering questions about Trump’s rhetoric, with responses that ranged from light criticism to awkward justifications. Only a few chose to fully embrace the president’s use of a term most associated with the barbaric hanging of African American men.“Given the history of our country, I would not compare this to a lynching,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday. “That was an unfortunate choice of words.”Democrats roundly criticized the president’s comment, with some contemplating a House vote to condemn his language.Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday morning to publicly lament how Democrats are running their impeachment inquiry, repeating familiar talking points before making his first public reference to “lynching” as president.“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 wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”While the president’s tweet created a distraction from the substance of the impeachment process, it did little to improve Trump’s standing as he faces the most significant legal and political threat to his presidency yet.As Republicans were forced to answer questions about Trump’s rhetoric, the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry yielded testimony from a State Department official who said under oath that he was told the president had leveraged foreign aid to Ukraine while seeking investigations of political opponents. Trump and his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani have previously denied that charge, which forms the central theme of the impeachment inquiry.“It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption and interference in elections,” William B. Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said Tuesday in an opening statement obtained by The Washington Post.Trump has increasingly deployed incendiary and offensive rhetoric as he has processed the likelihood of being the third president in history to be impeached. As several members of his administration have testified before Congress, Trump has called the impeachment effort a “a coup,” a “witch hunt,” illegal and unconstitutional. At a rally earlier this month, he said it was “bullshit.”But Tuesday was the first time Trump merged his willingness to stoke the country’s racial tensions with his bombastic counterimpeachment messaging campaign.Lynching, the extrajudicial murder of an untried suspect, usually by a mob and often by hanging, has a unique history in the United States because of its direct link to slavery and racism. In the United States, more than 4,700 lynchings were recorded between 1882 and 1968, according to the NAACP. Of those murdered people, almost three-quarters were black men, women and children. An untold number of runaway slaves were lynched after being captured.Trump’s willingness to describe his political predicament as a lynching displayed an “ignorance” of that history, said Michael Eric Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University. “It’s a kind of willful manipulation of this historic symbol of black vulnerability to score points,” he said. “But he’s ignorant enough to not understand that that’s not something that you just willy-nilly do.”The White House sought to defend Trump’s rhetoric as unrelated to race
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