Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday compared the current impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump to the Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century, implying that the people who were accused of being witches – and ultimately killed – had it better than the president, as The Hill first noted.
"Let me see if I have this right," Graham tweeted just after 11 a.m. on Wednesday. "Jerry Nadler is inviting President Trump to participate in the Judiciary Committee hearings — after all the facts were gathered in Schiff's Intel Committee — where the president's team was shut out."
"Salem witches got a better deal than this!" Graham, a frequent defender of the president, exclaimed.
The language used by the South Carolina Republican legislator isn't too far off from that of the man at the center of the impeachment inquiry. The president has regularly referred to the impeachment inquiry as a "Witch Hunt" by Democrats and by members of the media. The president used the same rhetoric to refer to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.
As The Hill noted, Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, sent a letter to the president inviting him to attend the committee hearings, which are scheduled to begin on December 4. The president has until Sunday to respond to Nadler's invitation, The Hill reported.Republicans have publicly resisted the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry, which was launched in September, and at first involved closed-door testimony of witnesses related to the probe. Earlier this month, however, Democrats began the open testimony proceedings of witnesses, which have been shown live on major television broadcasts and cable news channels.
The hearings are the third portion of the impeachment proceedings so far, which first included the closed-door hearings, then the public testimony, and will now include testimony from constitutional lawyers in order to examine the president's actions, The Hill said. The third phase in the Judiciary Committee aims to determine whether the president acted inappropriately in reportedly withholding previously-approved funds from Ukraine. This reportedly occurred in the midst of his requests of the European nation to investigate unproven theories relating to one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Should the House vote to impeach the president, a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate will determine whether the president's actions warrant removal from the Oval Office.
In addition to calling the inquiry a "Witch Hunt," President Trump has insisted that he did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine. However, since the beginning of the controversy, he has seemed to admit to many of the accusations leveled against him by the still-anonymous whistleblower, who in August filed a complaint over the president's July call with the Ukrainian president.
According to History.com, the Salem Witch Trials began in 1692 in the Salem Village in Massachusetts when a group of girls that claimed to be possessed by the devil then accused several women of practicing witchcraft. More than 150 people – including men, women and children – were accused of practicing witchcraft during the hysteria, which saw 19 people hanged following the accusations.