White House spokesman: Trump didn't mean to compare his experience with 'darkest moments' in US history

The White House on Tuesday sought to soft-pedal President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE's comparison of the impeachment inquiry targeting him to a "lynching," with a spokesman saying Trump was not comparing his experience to "dark times" in U.S. history. 

“The president is not comparing what’s happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley insisted in a back-and-forth with reporters at the White House. 

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“What he’s explaining, clearly, is the way he has been treated by the media since he announced for president.”

Gidley insisted that Trump has been treated unfairly throughout  the impeachment process, accusing Democrats of not affording him due process.

The White House spokesman sidestepped questions from reporters about whether he would condemn the word “lynching,” or whether he agreed with Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug bill MORE (S.C.), the only African American Republican in the U.S. Senate, that Trump should not have used the word.

Gidley instead sought to shift focus to how the Trump administration’s policies have benefited the African American community, pointing to progress on criminal justice reform, the creation of opportunity zones in inner cities and record low unemployment among African Americans.  

“People are upset about President Trump’s words all the time, but what you can’t argue with are the results he has put forth for the African American community,” Gidley told reporters.

Trump ushered in a torrent of criticism from lawmakers, including from some Republicans, after he suggested early Tuesday that House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry was akin to a “lynching” — a word that describes the extrajudicial killings of African Americans.

“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. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!” Trump tweeted.

A number of prominent Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates eviscerated Trump for the remark.

“You are comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?” Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassThe US treats asylum seekers so poorly Lawmakers visit African migrants at US-Mexico border Preventative measures are needed in child welfare policy, data shows MORE (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted.

Some Republicans have also broken with Trump over the comments, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrat who opposed Trump, Clinton impeachment inquiries faces big test CNN Pelosi town hall finishes third in cable news ratings race, draws 1.6M Economy adds 266K jobs in November, blowing past expectations MORE (R-Calif.), who offered tepid criticism by saying he disagreed with Trump’s use of the word.

Several Republicans have also come to Trump’s defense, including Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch Senate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules MORE (R-S.C.) who asserted the impeachment inquiry is “lynching in every sense.”

Trump has employed increasingly caustic rhetoric to respond to the quickening impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of a “coup” and calling the investigation “bullshit.” Trump has denied anything improper in his interactions with Ukraine, which are the subject of the impeachment inquiry.

The White House has refused to cooperate with the ongoing probe, raising due process and other legal issues with the inquiry and casting it as an illegitimate attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election.

The White House and Trump’s Republican allies have criticized Democrats for not holding a vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry, for conducting interviews in private and for refusing Republicans the right to subpoena their own witnesses, among other things.

Trump’s tweet Tuesday came as a top U.S. diplomat prepared to testify behind closed doors about issues he raised regarding the administration’s interactions with Ukraine.

Democrats are focusing on a July 25 call during with Trump asked Ukraine’s leader to look into allegations about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference MORE. The phone call triggered a whistleblower complaint alleging Trump tried to use his official position to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.