The fierce feud over Democratic efforts to impeach President Donald Trump is heating up to new levels this week as Republicans label the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry "illegitimate". And President Trump is describing the impeachment probe as a "lynching", sparking a whole new debate.
Democrats say that term is offensive, but critics are saying those claims are hypocritical, pointing out that Joe Biden, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, and other Democrats used similar "lynching" terms in the 90's when they were opposing the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Some Republican lawmakers are defending the president's comment, saying the closed-door sessions deprive the president of the opportunity to defend himself.
In fact, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to introduce a resolution condemning the closed-door impeachment inquiry, which he calls "illegitimate."
"We cannot allow future presidents and this president to be impeached based on an inquiry in the House that's never been voted upon, that does not allow the president to confront the witnesses against him, call witnesses on his behalf and cross-examine people who are accusing him of misdeeds," Graham said on Fox News' Hannity.
One of those witnesses, acting US ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, testified Tuesday that he was told that if the president of Ukraine did not announce he was launching investigations into Joe Biden and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, Trump would not release aid to Ukraine or agree to a White House meeting.
The testimony also said Trump repeatedly told officials he wasn't after a "quid pro quo," but established a trade between the US aid and the investigations.
A White House statement calls Taylor's testimony a "triple hearsay" and said the career diplomat is a "radical unelected bureaucrat".
Vice President Mike Pence insisted there was no "quid pro quo."
"The American people can read the transcript of the phone call the president had with President Zelensky, and they will see there was no quid pro quo," Pence told Fox News' The Ingraham Angle.
But Democratic Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan found Taylor's testimony troubling. "In my ten short months in Congress – it's not even noon, right? – and this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far," Levin said.
Meanwhile, the president is under fire for describing the impeachment inquiry as a "lynching".
"How dare he compare our constitutional obligation for oversight to a hate crime," said Democrat Rep. Karen Bass who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
But on CBN News' Faith Nation, a member of the Trump Leadership Council, Dr. Bill Bennett, said it was not a problem to use that word.
"The president is visceral in his reactions – I don't know if you've noticed that – but he tends to say the first thing that comes into his head," Bennett said. "Yeah, I think it's okay, as I think you pointed out, 'high-tech lynching' is what Clarence Thomas said."
"The Clinton protestors talked about lynching; lynching has become a term much more broadly in use," he continued.
Still, Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden blasted Trump for using the term, and he was then exposed in viral videos showing him using the same word in the Clinton impeachment era.
Impeachment is not "lynching," it is part of our Constitution. Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It's despicable. https://t.co/QcC25vhNeb
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 22, 2019
Joe Biden in 1998 on impeachment:
It's a "partisan lynching." pic.twitter.com/rfqntmP3sP
— Caleb SkHull (@CalebJHull) October 22, 2019
Meanwhile, on the issue of those closed-door hearings, Democrats say they plan to hold public hearings in coming weeks.