Sunday 26 January 2020

'Learn some history' - mayor of Massachusetts tells Trump after his Salem witch trial comments

President Donald Trump with First Lady Melania Trump (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
President Donald Trump with First Lady Melania Trump (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Philip Marcel

The mayor of Salem, Massachusetts said US president Donald Trump needs to "learn some history" after he claimed those accused in the city's infamous 17th-century witch trials received more due process than he has as he faced impeachment.

Democratic mayor Kim Driscoll wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the trials in 1692 included "powerless, innocent victims" who were "hanged or pressed to death" on scant evidence.

Twenty people suspected of witchcraft were killed in Salem, a coastal city about 20 miles north of downtown Boston, during a frenzy stoked by superstition, fear of disease and strangers, and jealousy.

Nineteen were hanged, and one man was crushed by rocks.

Supporters react at U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis?
Supporters react at U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis?

The allegations against Mr Trump, in contrast, are against a powerful world leader and come with "ample evidence" and "admissions of wrongdoing," Ms Driscoll said.

"Right, will they ever learn some history?" Ms Driscoll wrote in a follow-up tweet.

"This situation is much different than the plight of the witch trial victims, who were convicted using spectral evidence + then brutally hanged or pressed to death. A dubious legal process that bears no relation to televised impeachment."

Ms Driscoll said comparing the impeachment proceedings to her city's dark legacy is "offensive" to the victims and their descendants.

"People in Salem want this history remembered so that it acknowledges going forward what never, ever should happen again," she said in an interview with WCVB-TV.

White House spokespersons did not respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.

In a six-page letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, Mr Trump criticised Democrats for seeking to impeach him.

"More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials," he complained. "One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again."

Supporters react at U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis?
Supporters react at U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis?

The Republican became the thir president in US history to be impeached. Last night, the House of Representatives voted him to be impeached for for an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over allegations he threatened to withhold military aid to the Ukraine unless that country opened an investigation into former US vice president Joe Biden, who is vying for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Mr Trump maintains it was appropriate for him to ask Ukraine to look into allegations of corruption and denies withholding the aid.

He has also frequently dismissed investigations into his administration as "witch hunts".

Mr Trump used the phrase during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the role then-candidate Mr Trump and his campaign may have played.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) looks out at the House of Representatives as she gavels the House out of session after representatives voted in favor of two counts of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) looks out at the House of Representatives as she gavels the House out of session after representatives voted in favor of two counts of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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