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

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him MORE (R-Maine) on Tuesday called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech 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 KinzingerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill 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 GrahamGraham reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country 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