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

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

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Top House Democrat calls Trump's "lynching" tweet a "historically ignorant statement"

Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage for The Recording Academy

In an interview with Mike Allen for "Axios on HBO," Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said President Trump's tweet calling the impeachment inquiry against him a "lynching" was "a historically ignorant statement."

  • Trump received pushback from both sides of the aisle over calling the constitutionally authorized process of impeachment a "lynching." Lynching is an especially sensitive topic for African Americans, who were the majority of victims.
Go deeperArrowNov 3, 2019

How Biden haunts Biden

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Sometimes it sounds like Joe Biden is running against Joe Biden.

The big picture: From Ukraine to Syria strategy to his use of the word "lynching" in connection with Bill Clinton's impeachment, Biden's background often complicates the attacks Democrats want to use against President Trump.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019

Kamala Harris slams Trump’s lynching tweet

Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo: ROBYN BECK / Contributor/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Saturday recollected President Trump's recent characterization of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “lynching," at 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College, a historically black college.

What she's saying: "What do we have in Donald Trump? Someone who dares — dares — to use the word 'lynching' with the blood that has been poured on the soil of South Carolina and so many place. And dares to talk about his victimization and compare it to those who have suffered in a criminal justice system in America that has too often been informed by racial bias and by injustice. And he dares to compare himself to the people who have been at the wrong end of a system that is in need of reform."

Go deeperArrowOct 26, 2019