Rudy Giuliani comparing impeachment to the Salem witch trials is a little right and a lot wrong, expert says

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tags: impeachment, Salem Witch Trials, Rudy Giuliani


Giuliani again compared the inquiry into Trump to the witch trials in a conversation with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday: “They actually want to impeach him on the testimony of hidden witnesses who are behind a curtain; we don’t know who they are,” he said, adding that he recently had read two books about the Salem witch trials.

“The witches had it better, in other words,” Ingraham commented.

“They had more rights,” Giuliani said.

The impeachment inquiry, in which Congress gathers information about the president’s alleged impropriety, is not a trial. Giuliani’s comparison of the probe to the Salem witch trials was partly accurate, but he also got a lot wrong.

Although those suspected of practicing black magic have been persecuted at least since biblical times, hysteria around witchcraft in the United States peaked in the late 17th century. Young girls who started screaming and flying into “fits” would prompt local men to complain to a judge that someone was harming the girls through witchcraft. A dubious legal process would follow.

“Under the English tradition of justice, you are innocent until proven guilty,” said Emerson W. Baker, a history professor at Salem State University who has studied the witch trials. “However, in 1692, that clearly did not happen.”

Giuliani was correct that accusers at the Salem trials had to attach their names to their testimony. His claim that people accused of witchcraft were confronted by the witnesses in their cases, however, was largely false.

Many of the people who accused others of witchcraft never appeared at trial, Baker said. Instead, the supposedly afflicted girls would give depositions that were then presented in court. In these cases, there was no opportunity to cross-examine the accusers.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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