Susan Collins calls on Trump to retract tweet comparing impeachment inquiry to 'lynching'

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Maine) on Tuesday called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE to retract a tweet in which he compared the House's impeachment inquiry to a "lynching," saying that the term evokes "a terrible time in our nation’s history."

“I think he should retract it, yes,” Collins told reporters when asked if the president should apologize. 

"'Lynching' brings back images of a terrible time in our nation’s history, and the President never should have made that comparison," the Maine senator added on Twitter. The term "lynching" is associated with extrajudicial mob killings of African Americans, which occurred frequently in the South following the Civil War. 

The comments from Collins, who has shown a willingness to condemn Trump's actions and comments, came just hours after the president likened the impeachment inquiry to a "lynching" while lashing out at the House Democrats' conduct.  

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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!"

Trump has repeatedly targeted Democrats over the impeachment inquiry, often referring to the hearings as "bullshit" and a "coup." But his latest remarks appeared to cross a line for many Democratic and GOP lawmakers. 

Republican Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHonoring service before self House approves Turkey sanctions in rare bipartisan rebuke of Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ill.), who has been vocal in his opposition to Trump's actions in Syria, called on the president to retract the statement, saying that people should never use terms like "lynching." 

"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. 

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a civil rights activist who founded a chapter of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, called on Trump to delete the tweet and lambasted the president for not considering the history of the extrajudicial practice  in America. 

"Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country?" he asked. 

“I really believe this man is prone to inflammatory statements, and that is one word no president ought to apply to himself,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on CNN.

Several GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-S.C.), rushed to the president's defense amid the backlash. Graham stood by Trump's word usage, saying that the impeachment inquiry was a "a lynching in every sense.”
 
 
After Trump publicly called on Ukraine and China to investigate the Biden family in early October, Collins said that the president had made a "mistake."
 
"I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent. ... It’s completely inappropriate," Collins told the Bangor Daily News.
 
—Jordain Carney contributed