Joe Biden forced to apologise for 1998 claim that impeaching Bill Clinton could be seen as ‘partisan lynching’

‘This wasn’t the right word to use and I’m sorry about that,’ admits former vice president – after telling Donald Trump that making the comparison was ‘abhorrent’

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 23 October 2019 10:11
Joe Biden says impeaching Bill Clinton could be seen as 'partisan lynching' in 1998 CNN interview

Joe Biden has been forced to apologise for suggesting the impeachment of Bill Clinton could be seen as “a partisan lynching”.

The Democratic presidential frontrunner’s 1998 comments resurfaced after he attacked Donald Trump for making a similar claim.

Mr Trump was widely criticised after he called the impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine “a lynching”. claiming it was being carried out “without due process or fairness or any legal rights”.

The racially charged word refers to historic extrajudicial executions by white mobs mainly against black people.

Thousands were killed by white racists in the US during the late 19th and mid-20th centuries.

Responding to Mr Trump’s claim, Mr Biden had said: “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.”

But the former vice president was later forced to apologise after footage emerged of him making a similar comparison in 1998, about the impeachment of Mr 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 offence,” he told CNN at the time.

Mr Clinton was impeached on perjury and obstruction charges relating to his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

After his comments resurfaced, Mr Biden suggested that while Mr Trump had deliberately invoked the US’ history of racial violence for his own ends, he had simply misspoken.

“This wasn’t the right word to use and I’m sorry about that,” he tweeted. “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.”

Mr Biden, who has talked up his record of action against “institutional segregation” during Democratic primary debates, was criticised last month for suggesting black parents did not know how to raise their children.

Mr Trump’s widely criticised comments came as Bill Taylor, the US ambassador to Ukraine, testified to Mr Trump’s impeachment inquiry, that an “irregular” diplomatic channel was being operated between Washington and Kiev, guided by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Contradicting Mr Trump’s claim that no “quid pro quo” deal was struck with Ukraine’s president, Mr Taylor said it was made clear to him by the administration that the president wanted Volodymyr Zelensky​ to announce a corruption probe into Mr Biden’s son Hunter.

In exchange, he said Ukraine would receive long-promised military aid and a visit to the White House.

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