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Trump 'lynching' comparison draws backlash from lawmakers

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE triggered a wave of outrage on Tuesday by comparing House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry to a lynching, drawing rebukes from prominent black lawmakers and a call from at least one Republican to retract the comment.

Trump’s rhetoric on the Democrats' investigation has grown increasingly hostile in recent weeks as he lobs attacks at his political opponents and decries the process as “illegitimate," “bullshit" and a "coup."

But his invocation of a term associated with extrajudicial mob killings of African Americans was particularly incendiary and prompted swift backlash. 

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"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!"

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) appeared on CNN shortly after the tweet was posted and appeared visibly agitated by Trump’s use of the term.

“I really believe this man is prone to inflammatory statements, and that is one word no president ought to apply to himself,” Clyburn said.

“I’ve studied presidential history quite a bit, and I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite like this,” he continued. “Andrew Johnson never would have described what was happening to him this way, and certainly Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Trump expected to bring Hunter Biden's former business partner to debate Davis: On eve of tonight's debate — we've seen this moment in history before MORE didn’t, nor did Nixon.”

Several other black lawmakers decried Trump invoking lynching in discussing a political process. 

Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushHillicon Valley: Judge's ruling creates fresh hurdle for TikTok | House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks | Biden campaign urges Facebook to remove Trump posts spreading 'falsehoods' House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks Congress should investigate OAS actions in Bolivia MORE (D-Ill.), a civil rights activist who founded a chapter of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, said Trump should delete the tweet. 

"You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING? What the hell is wrong with you?" the congressman tweeted. "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.”

Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassPorter raises .2 million in third quarter Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police MORE (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, blasted Trump for “comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?"

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonLong-shot Espy campaign sees national boost in weeks before election House chairman asks Secret Service for briefing on COVID-19 safeguards for agents Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments MORE (D-Miss.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, decried Trump as “racist and unfit to serve.”  

Among Republicans, Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerFox News reporter defends confirming Atlantic piece despite Trump backlash: 'I feel very confident' GOP lawmaker defends Fox reporter after Trump calls for her firing Lindsey Graham: 'QAnon is bats--- crazy' MORE (R-Ill.), who has been vocally critical of Trump’s moves in Syria, rebuked Trump for using the term and called on him to immediately retract it. 

“We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits.  But never should we use terms like ‘lynching’ here. The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and @realDonaldTrump should retract this immediately.  May God help us to return to a better way,” Kinzinger tweeted. 

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley defended Trump amid the backlash, telling reporters that the president “is not comparing what’s happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history.”

“What he’s explaining, clearly, is the way he has been treated by the media since he announced for president,” Gidley said, asserting that Trump has been treated unfairly by the media and that Democrats have not offered him due process in their impeachment inquiry.

“People are upset about President Trump’s words all of the time, but what you can’t argue with are the results he has put forth for the African American community,” Gidley said, pointing to progress on criminal justice reform and Trump’s economic policies, which have resulted in record low unemployment among African Americans.

Trump’s tweet likening impeachment to lynching comes one day after he called on Republicans to more vociferously defend him against the impeachment investigation. 

"The two things they have: They’re vicious and they stick together," Trump said of Democrats during a Cabinet meeting on Monday. "They don’t have Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRatings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning Mitt Romney did not vote for Trump in 2020 election MORE in their midst. They don’t have people like that." 

But Trump’s latest remark is likely to make that difficult. While Republicans are largely against impeaching Trump and have presented a unified front on that issue, they have struggled to deal with a wave of self-inflicted controversies caused by the White House in recent weeks.

Many are displeased with Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria — a decision that effectively paved the way for a Turkish military operation against U.S.-allied Kurds — and pushed back last week on his since-reversed decision to host the Group of Seven (G-7) summit at his Doral resort.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Jaime Harrison raises million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid MORE (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally who has also been critical of the Syria decision, backed Trump for calling impeachment a lynching, telling reporters Tuesday: "This is a lynching in every sense.”

“You can understand why the president’s frustrated,” Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Ohio) said when asked if the lynching tweet was appropriate, calling the impeachment inquiry a "ridiculous charade." 

Trump also drew criticism from some Democratic presidential candidates on Monday, including former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who tweeted that it is “beyond shameful to use the word ‘lynching’ to describe being held accountable for your actions.” 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Watch live: Biden participates in HBCU homecoming Jennifer Aniston: 'It's not funny to vote for Kanye' MORE (D-Calif.), one of two African American presidential candidates, accused Trump of trying to “whitewash” his own corrupt behavior. 

“Lynching is a reprehensible stain on this nation's history, as is this President. We'll never erase the pain and trauma of lynching, and to invoke that torture to whitewash your own corruption is disgraceful,” Harris tweeted. 

The president’s comments will be particularly difficult for his allies to defend given his history of racially offensive rhetoric. 

Trump has criticized black athletes who have protested police brutality and social injustice during the national anthem, suggesting they don’t belong in the country.

He reportedly described Haiti, El Salvador and certain African nations as “shithole countries” and questioned why the U.S. could not take more immigrants from European nations.

Trump caused a firestorm over the summer when he tweeted that four minority congresswomen should “go back” where they came from, despite all four being U.S. citizens and three of them being born here.

Trump’s attacks on Democrats have increased in fervency in the four weeks since House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (D-Calif.) announced the lower chamber would move forward with an impeachment inquiry focused on his effort to have Ukraine investigate 2020 Democratic contender and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE

Trump has lashed out at Pelosi and other Democrats on Twitter and at his campaign rallies, accusing them of trying to bruise him ahead of the 2020 election.  

He has singled out specific lawmakers, calling Pelosi “crazy” and “stupid” and suggesting House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGreenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats MORE (D-Calif.) be investigated for treason.

Alexander Bolton contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:50 a.m.