Oct 23, 2019

Biden apologizes for calling Clinton probe a "partisan lynching"

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted an apology Tuesday night after CNN reported he'd criticized President Trump for referring to the impeachment inquiry as a "lynching" yet called then-President Clinton's impeachment investigation a "partisan lynching" in 1998.

"This wasn’t the right word to use and I’m sorry about that. Trump on the other hand chose his words deliberately today in his use of the word lynching and continues to stoke racial divides in this country daily."

Why it matters: Politicians who've used this word in the context of a congressional inquiry into a presidential administration are equating a political investigation to a hate crime that historically targeted African Americans in the South.

  • NAACP figures show more than 4,700 lynchings occurred in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968.

The big picture: The former vice president was among several 2020 candidates and Congress members who slammed the president for describing the impeachment inquiry as a lynching, though several prominent Republicans defended Trump.

  • Biden was one of at least five Democrats to refer to Clinton's impeachment inquiry as a "lynching," a Washington Post investigation found. Among them were two lawmakers who criticized Trump Tuesday for his use of the word, Reps. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.).

What they're saying: Meeks, an African American lawmaker, told WashPost that while he described the proceedings on the House floor the day before Clinton was impeached as a lynching, "context matters."

  • "There is a difference when that word is used by someone of my experience and perspective, whose relatives were the targets of lynch mobs, compared to a president who has dog-whistled to white nationalists and peddled racism," he said.
"This is the birther president, who called African nations s---holes and urban cities infested. Those he called 'very fine people' in Charlottesville were the kind of people who lynched those who looked like me. So, yes — there are certain words I am more at liberty to invoke than Donald J. Trump."
— Meeks' statement to WashPost

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Trump walks to historic St. John's Church outside White House as protests rage

President Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located just steps away from the White House across Lafayette Park, on Monday night as protests linked to the murder of George Floyd raged across the capital and cities around the country.

What we're seeing: Military police and park rangers used physical force and tear gas on peaceful protestors to clear the area so that Trump could "pay respects" to the church that was damaged by a fire on Sunday.

Trump threatens to deploy military amid national unrest

President Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden Monday evening that he is "mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military" to stop violent protests across the country, decrying "professional anarchists, looters, criminals, antifa and others" whose actions have "gripped" the nation.

The backdrop: Trump's announcement came as police clashed with protesters just outside of the White House, using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot," and other slogans. Flash bangs used outside the White House could be heard from the Rose Garden.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Autopsies say George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

The latest: An updated official autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner also determined that the manner of Floyd's death was "homicide," ruling it was caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdued, restraint, and neck compression."