Trump 'lynching' comment on impeachment probe is condemned as key witness testifies

By Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump likened the impeachment investigation into his dealings with Ukraine to a 'lynching' on Tuesday in a tweet that drew condemnation for his inflammatory reference to decades of killings of thousands of black Americans. Republican Trump issued his comment on Twitter just before Tuesday's closed-door testimony by William Taylor, a U.S.

Reuters October 23, 2019 00:11:44 IST
Trump 'lynching' comment on impeachment probe is condemned as key witness testifies

Trump lynching comment on impeachment probe is condemned as key witness testifies

By Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump likened the impeachment investigation into his dealings with Ukraine to a "lynching" on Tuesday in a tweet that drew condemnation for his inflammatory reference to decades of killings of thousands of black Americans.

Republican Trump issued his comment on Twitter just before Tuesday's closed-door testimony by William Taylor, a U.S. diplomat expected to be an important witness in the inquiry led by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lawmakers planned to ask Taylor, the acting ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, about Trump's withholding of security assistance for the government in Kiev, which Taylor called "crazy." https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-whistleblower/u-s-diplomat-who-questioned-crazy-ukraine-policy-testifies-in-trump-probe-idUSKBN1X10BC

"All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Lynching refers to the murder of thousands of Americans, most of them black, between the 1880s and 1960s, as African-Americans struggled for their rights as U.S. citizens.

Trump's comment was immediately condemned as unbecoming of a president.

"For Trump to characterize a legal impeachment inquiry as a lynching shows a complete disrespect for the thousands of Black people lynched - murdered - throughout our nation's history in acts of racism and hatred," said Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which advocates for equal opportunity and fights bigotry.

Some Republicans defended Trump's use of the word, instead blaming journalists or Democrats conducting the investigation. Some Republicans have complained about the inquiry's process as carried out by three House committees.

"It shows a lot of things about our national media. When it's about Trump, who cares about the process, as long as you get him. So, yeah, this is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters.

The investigation is focused on Trump's request during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that he investigate a domestic political rival, Joe Biden. Former vice president Biden is a leading contender to become the Democratic 2020 presidential nominee to run against Trump.

Senator Tim Scott, one of two black Republicans in Congress, said, "I get his absolute rejection of the process," but said he would not use the word lynching.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump was expressing his feelings.

"The president was clearly articulating the way he feels and the way you guys have treated him from day one," Gidley told reporters at the White House.

Democratic African-American lawmakers said they were not surprised, given Trump's record of inflammatory statements.

"For him to say something like that was disgusting, reflects his insensitivity towards the historical tragedies of this country and I'm just totally, I would not say surprised or shocked, but just very, very disappointed," said Representative Barbara Lee.

Another Representative, Hakeem Jeffries, said he hoped Trump apologised.

"The president should not compare a constitutionally mandated impeachment inquiry to such a dangerous and dark chapter of American history. It's irresponsible for him to do so and I hope that he will apologise."

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper and Susan Heavey; editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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