WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden apologized Tuesday night after a 1998 clip surfaced of him saying the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton could be seen as a “partisan lynching.”
Biden’s apology came the same day he said it was “abhorrent” and “despicable” that President Donald Trump used the term to refer to the impeachment inquiry being conducted against him.
“Impeachment is not ‘lynching,’ it is part of our Constitution,” he admonished Trump. “Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It’s despicable.”
But 20 years ago, Biden used that exact word to refer to the impeachment process against fellow Democrat Clinton.
“Even if the president should be impeached, history is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching or whether or not it was something that in fact met the standard, the very high bar, that was set by the founders as to what constituted an impeachable offense,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Trump said he was the victim of a lynching in tweet that argued the inquiry was being done “without due process or fairness or any legal rights.”
“All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching,” he tweeted.
Nine hours after condemning Trump’s tweet, Biden went on Twitter to say he was sorry for doing the same two decades ago.
“This wasn’t the right word to use and I’m sorry about that,” Biden said in a tweet linking to a CNN story about the 21-year-old interview.
But he quickly made a distinction between himself and the president, tweeting “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.”
Biden’s assertion that Trump “deliberately” used the word was echoed by other Democrats who painted it as a strategy to distract from the negative headlines surrounding the impeachment inquiry in the House.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, D-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday that “every time his back is up against the wall, he throws out the red meat of racial rhetoric and attacks communities of color.”
Biden was not the only Democrat to refer to Clinton’s impeachment as a “lynching.” AWashington Post report found at least five House Democrats used that word or “lynch mob” to refer to the process against Clinton. One of them, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment.
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