President Donald Trump on Tuesday compared House Democrats' impeachment inquiry to a "lynching," further outraging Democrats by using a term that is commonly associated with racist murders, according to The Hill.
The content of the tweet itself was nothing new or particularly controversial, but the use of the word "lynching" sparked a controversy that divided lawmakers mostly along partisan lines.
"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!"
Some Democrats harshly attacked President Trump for comparing an impeachment investigation to a lynching, like Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.), a former civil rights activist who founded a chapter of the Black Panthers.
"You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING? What the hell is wrong with you?" Rush tweeted. "Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet."
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) also criticized Trump for his word choice.
"We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits," Kinzinger, wrote. "But never should we use terms like 'lynching' here. 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."
The president, of course, had his defenders, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, who forcefully agreed with the "lynching" characterization.
"This is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American," Graham said to reporters. "I've never seen a situation in my lifetime as a lawyer where somebody is accused of a major misconduct who cannot confront the accuser, call witnesses on her behalf and have the discussion in the light of day so the public can judge."
Graham seemed to reject the idea that black people should take particular offense to the word "lynching," even knowing the history of the word in the U.S.
"Yes, African Americans have [been] lynched," Graham said. "Other people have been lynched throughout history. What does lynching mean? That a mob grabs you, they don't give you a chance to defend yourself, they don't tell you what happened to you, they just destroy you. That's exactly what's happening in the United States House of Representatives right now."
Graham's definition of the word "lynch" is accurate. Rush's and Kinzinger's historical perspective on the word is also accurate. So where a lawmaker stands on this, like many other incidents involving President Trump, probably has more to do with how a person already felt about the president than anything else.