WASHINGTON - Atlanta Congressman John Lewis was among the senior Democratic lawmakers to denounce President Donald Trump’s tweet describing the House’s impeachment probe as a “lynching” on Tuesday.
The civil rights hero and longtime Democratic congressman called Trump’s comment’s “obscene.”
“People died, hundreds and thousands of people were murdered,” he said. “And it’s shameful.”
“When people get impeached they tend to live,” he added.
Lewis’ comments came hours after Trump tweeted that “all Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - 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. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2019
Georgia lawmakers have broken along party lines over the impeachment probe, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally launched last month and defended in a recent editorial board with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Lewis, a longtime critic of Trump’s, announced his support of the inquiry in an emotional speech from the well of the House in which he contended that the Trump administration has demonstrated “complete disdain and disregard for ethics, for the law and for the Constitution.”
Lewis was among key activists in the civil rights movement, taking part in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, the 1961 Freedom Rides, the 1963 March on Washington and the Bloody Sunday march in 1965, where he was beaten in the skull by a state trooper in Selma, Ala.
He was one of several senior African American lawmakers and civil rights to slam Trump’s comments on Tuesday.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the most senior African American in Congress, said lynching is “one word no president ought to imply on himself.”
“I’m a product of the South. I know the history of that word. That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using,” he said on CNN.
Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Trump’s comparison "shows a complete disrespect for the thousands of Black people lynched — murdered — throughout our nation's history in acts of racism and hatred."
Capitol Hill Republicans largely declined to weigh in on Trump’s tweets on Tuesday.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley later said the president was “not comparing what’s happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history.”
“What he’s explaining clearly is the way he’s been treated by the media since he announced for president,” he said. “If you want to talk about what the president has done for the African-American community I would love to have that conversation because there are many things he has done.”
Trump plans to headline a Republican fundraiser in Atlanta next month, and there are also talks of him appearing at an event designed to energize black GOP voters during his trip.
This isn’t the first time Trump has inflamed racial tensions with African Americans. His comments that four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from prompted widespread rebuke this summer, even from many Georgia Republicans who are vocal backers of the president.
Albany Democrat Sanford Bishop, another senior African American lawmaker, underscored his support for the impeachment probe on Tuesday.
“I have great difficulty understanding his choice of words in many, many instances, so I’m not going to go there,” Bishop said of Trump. “But my response to you is in defense of the Constitution of the United States for which our men and women die, for which the citizens of the United States are blessed to enjoy and which I hope will not be destroyed.”