President Donald Trump’s campaign falsely suggested Thursday that a senior Democratic congressman, Rep. Jim Clyburn, had called for Trump to be hanged.
“The number 3 House Democrat, James Clyburn, just said this about President Trump: ‘Hang him!’ This hatred and anger is out of control,” the campaign’s “war room” tweeted along with a video clip from Clyburn’s Thursday interview with CNN’s John Berman on “New Day,” which you can watch here.
The clip was soon rocketing around pro-Trump social media – as prominent Trump allies tweeted more explicit versions of the campaign’s insinuation that Clyburn had proposed Trump’s execution.
But the very clip the campaign tweeted shows the campaign was taking Clyburn’s remarks far out of context.
Facts First: Clyburn did use the words “hang him,” but this was not a call to hang Trump or anyone else. Rather, Clyburn was saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments in favor of Trump’s acquittal on articles of impeachment, in advance of a Senate trial, have shown that McConnell is “not going to be impartial” in running the proceedings – just as if it would show bias if someone with the “reverse” perspective had said in advance of a trial, “Let’s give him a fair trial and hang him.’”
The full context
Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, told Berman that House Democrats should not send their articles of impeachment to the Senate until they confirm that McConnell will hold a fair trial rather than run a “kangaroo court.”
Clyburn said that, if it were up to him, it is possible Democrats would never transmit the articles of impeachment. He said McConnell’s previous comments about coordinating with White House lawyers on the trial have made clear that McConnell is not impartial.
“If he doesn’t come around to committing to a fair trial, keep those articles here. So – keep it as long as it takes,” Clyburn said. “If you know, and he’s told you, what he’s gonna do, he’s just – almost like, ‘Let’s give him a fair trial and hang him.’ I mean, it’s the reverse of that.”
Clyburn could perhaps have made his point more clearly, but it was abundantly clear that he was not calling for Trump’s execution.
Nonetheless, the Trump campaign’s tweet was retweeted more than 7,000 times by the end of the day.
In their own tweets, some of Trump’s prominent allies made the campaign’s dishonest framing of Clyburn’s remark even more incendiary. Charlie Kirk, executive director of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, tweeted to his 1.4 million followers: “A leading Democrat lawmaker just called for the public execution of our President. And the media says Trump is dividing America?” Kirk’s tweet generated more than 15,000 retweets.
Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, tweeted to 103,000 followers, “CNN sees nothing wrong with calling for President Trump to be lynched. Imagine how they’d react if Trump called for Clyburn to be lynched.” Todd Starnes, the conservative commentator and former Fox News radio host, tweeted to 113,000 followers, “WATCH: Rep. James Clyburn Wants to Execute President Trump.” He added, “Hey @SecretService - are you aware of this threat against the president?”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.