Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden was quick to attack President Donald Trump on Tuesday after Trump referred to impeachment as a “lynching,” which is the same term that Biden used in 1998 to describe the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton.
“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!”
Biden responded: “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.”
In an appearance on CNN in October 1998, however, Biden referred to the Clinton impeachment as a “partisan lynching,” saying:
Even if the President should be impeached, 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 offense.
“The term ‘lynching’ is associated with the extrajudicial killings of African Americans, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was used to terrorize black Americans and to maintain white political supremacy,” CNN reported.
“The impeachment of Clinton was initiated days after Biden’s 1998 comments on CNN, and the House of Representatives formally impeached him for lying under oath and obstruction of justice in a largely party line vote in December 1998,” CNN added. “Biden, who was a senator at the time, voted to acquit Clinton during the trial phase in the senate in February 1999.”
At least five Democrat members of Congress have previously referred to impeachment as a lynching, including: Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), then-Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and then-Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA).
GOP Rapid Response Director Steve Guest highlighted one of the lynching comments from Nadler, who in 2008, said: “I am the president’s defender in the sense that I haven’t seen anything yet that would rise, in my opinion, to the level of impeachable offense. … I wish we could get this over with quickly. … In pushing the process, in pushing the arguments of fairness and due process the Republicans so far have been running a lynch mob.”
In 1998, Davis said: “I will not vote for this nightmare before Christmas. I will not vote for this lynching in the people’s House. I will vote against these resolutions.”
In 1998, Meeks said: “What we are doing here is not a prosecution, it is a persecution and indeed it is a political lynching.”
In 1998, McDermott said: “We’re taking a step down the road to becoming a political Lynch Mob… We are going to find a rope find a tree and ask a bunch of questions later…”
In 1998, Rangel referred to Clinton’s impeachment as a a “lynch mob mentality, that says this man has to go.”