40 Percent of Americans Agree With President's Tweet Saying He is Victim of a 'Lynching,' Poll Finds

Forty percent of Americans agreed with President Donald Trump's inflammatory tweet last week saying that he was the subject of a political lynching, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday. Seventy-three percent of Republicans backed Trump's tweet, while 43 percent of Independents and 9 percent of Democrats did.

Historians have bristled at the president's comparison between an impeachment inquiry and the dark chapter in American history, during which extrajudicial killings of black people often were public spectacles.

The tweet prompted a flurry of commentary, quickly dominating the news cycle a day after Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, reportedly offered House investigators testimony that tied America's provision of Ukrainian aid to inquiries that could benefit Trump politically.

Descendants of black people who had been lynched called the president's insensitive, racist and ignorant. Prominent GOP figures, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, issued a rare rebuke of the president's language. Still, some Republican politicians defended the president. South Carolina Lindsey Graham, whose flip from a vocal Trump critic to one of the president's closest allies has been widely noted, backed the comments.

"Yes, this is a lynching and in every sense this is un-American," Graham said. "I've never seen a situation in my lifetime as a lawyer where someone is accused of a major misconduct and cannot confront the accuser or call witnesses on their behalf."

YouGov polling last week found that 57 percent of Americans thought it was inappropriate to compare an impeachment hearing to lynching, and 26 percent thought it was appropriate to do so. The USA Today/Suffolk University figures documented more ambivalence. While 54 percent of respondents disagreed with the tweet, a full 40 percent backed it. Fox News viewers leaned heavily toward supporting the president's comments on lynching, with 78 percent of viewers from the network thinking that the comparison was fair.

As criticism mounted, some figures on Fox News were less critical and took issue with Trump's wording rather than his message. "It's not a word that I would have used. But, it's just too loaded," Jesse Watters said. "But I know what he's saying. Everybody gets the analogy about impeachment, that they're doing this like a mob action in the middle of the night without due process rights."

Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe took a similar tack, taking issue with the president's language, not his message.

"I think the context to the point that President Trump was trying to make was fair, however, he stepped on his own message, obviously, by using a word like that that has such a historically, you know, sensitive and, you know, sad connotation," she said.

Support for impeachment has risen since House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi opened an inquiry last month. Trump has responded with attacks against key figures in the investigations, including Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, both of whom he has accused of treason.

Even as Trump continues making explosive comments regarding the impeachment hearing, the USA Today/Suffolk University poll indicated that the public is not fully behind impeachment proceedings. But the poll found that just 38 percent of voters thought that the phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was so inappropriate it warranted impeachment.

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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images