Weaponizing Hate

: ‘How dare you’ Texans in Congress respond to Trump comparing his impeachment to lynching

Trump
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, addresses his remarks Wednesday in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. – Photo by Shealah Craighead/White House

By ALEX SAMUELS

The Texas Tribune

 

Members of Texas’ Democratic congressional delegation overwhelmingly condemned President Donald Trump after he sent a Tuesday morning tweet comparing the U.S. House’s impeachment inquiry to a lynching.

“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 wrote on Twitter. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”

U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, a vocal Trump critic, offered the most scathing rebuke of the president, accusing him of “weaponizing hate.” Green called Trump “no better than the bigots who screamed ‘blood and soil’ in Charlottesville,” a reference to the 2017 white nationalist protest in Virginia that turned deadly when an avowed neo-Nazi plowed his car into counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman. Two others died in a helicopter crash linked to the rally.

“Mr. President, HOW DARE YOU compare impeachment to lynching (the mob murdering and racist terrorizing of Black people)?” Green tweeted.

A White House spokesman insisted that Trump’s reference to lynching was not Trump “comparing what happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history.”

House Democrats began impeachment proceedings in late September after news broke of a summer phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Trump and his allies have called the probe a political “witch hunt” for weeks, but the president’s use of the racially insensitive term most associated with the hangings of African Americans elicited immediate blowback on Capitol Hill.

Most of Trump’s 2020 rivals – including Texan presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro – also issued statements of reproof. The Congressional Black Caucus called Trump’s use of the word “unacceptable.”

“What is happening to you, Mr. President, is the Constitutional duty of the Congress. Mr. President you have no moral right to compare or make light of an American tragedy,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who is authoring a resolution on reparations for African Americans over slavery.

“Do not use the word lynching that will reignite the pain and fear that permeated the community of African Americans in a dastardly and violent period in America’s history. I am prayerful that these families will someday have justice and peace.”

Throughout his campaign and into his presidential term, Trump has been accused of deepening racial divides with his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric. He was recently denounced as racist for encouraging a chant of “send her back” about a Somali-American congresswoman. He infamously said there was blame “on both sides” for the Charlottesville rally, putting little onus on the white nationalists.

In the hours after Tuesday’s tweet, most Texas Republicans remained silent or dodged questions about Trump’s latest comment, while U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn appeared to defend the president.

It’s “obviously a word with significant historical freight,” Cruz told a Politico Capitol Hill reporter. “The connotation the president is carrying forward is a political mob seeking an outcome regardless of facts. And that I think is an objectively true description of what is happening in the House right now.”

Cornyn, meanwhile, said “obviously” Trump’s choice of wording was “hyperbole and some people might find it offensive.” He implied that he wasn’t offended by the remark.

“I’ve got a pretty high threshold when it comes to being offended around here,” Cornyn said. “Otherwise it would be all day, every day.”

 

This article was first published at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/10/22/donald-trump-lynching-tweet-congress-responds by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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