Politics & Government

Trump compares impeachment to lynching days before visit to SC historically black college

After President Donald Trump said the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into his conduct was a “lynching,” South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn issued a harsh rebuke.

“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 Tuesday morning. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”

Clyburn, the House of Representatives’ majority whip, appeared on CNN shortly after, where he was asked about Trump’s tweet.

“That is one word that no president ought to apply to himself,” said Clyburn, a former civil rights activist who was arrested multiple times for protesting.

The Columbia Democrat said he was offended by Trump’s use of the term “lynching.”

“I’m a southern politician. I’m a product of the South. I know the history of that word,” Clyburn said. “That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using.”

Clyburn compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of past presidents who have faced impeachment or similar scrutiny.

“Andrew Johnson never would have described what was happening to him this way and, certainly, Bill Clinton didn’t, nor did (Richard) Nixon,” Clyburn said. “So, this president is hopefully, an anomaly.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Charleston Republican, struck a softer note.

“There’s no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing to a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process,” Scott said. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘lynching.’”

On the other hand, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Seneca Republican, supported Trump’s comparison of the impeachment hearings to a “lynching.”

“This is a lynching in every sense,” Graham said.

The statement comes days before Trump is scheduled to visit a historically black college in Columbia. At Benedict College on Friday, Trump will participate in a forum on criminal justice reform.

S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said organizers for the forum should rescind Trump’s invitation to speak over the comments.

“I don’t think the president has the right to speak at a historically black college after making those comments,” Robertson said. “It’s an insult to the people who suffered under Jim Crow politics.”

Robertson maintained that the comment was a ploy to “energize Donald Trump’s base” and voters who would support Graham’s reelection.

“It’s inappropriate, but once again, it’s par for the course,” Robertson said.

The S.C. Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

House Democrats launched formal impeachment efforts last month, after a whistleblower report surfaced indicating concerns about a call Trump had with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. Democrats say that call, in which Trump asks Zelensky to investigate Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, could be grounds for removal from office.

The White House later released an unofficial transcript of a call, saying claims that the president withheld military aid from the region to use as leverage to ask for the investigation were not factual.

Later, though, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — a former congressman from South Carolina — said during a press conference that Trump did, in fact, expect to get something in exchange for the aid.

“Get over it,” Mulvaney said. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

Mulvaney later tried to walk back his statements.

Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.