Trump supporters protest outside a town hall meeting in the Oakland Center at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Picture: Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP

Washington - The mayor of Salem lashed out at Donald Trump on Tuesday, telling him to "learn some history," after the US president compared the impeachment process against him to the 17th century Salem witch trials in Massachusetts.

In a seething six-page letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Trump blasted the impeachment process as a "hoax," saying that "more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials."

Trump's reference to the 1692 witch hunt in the then-colony of Massachusetts prompted an equally scathing response from Salem's mayor Kim Driscoll.

"Learn some history," Driscoll wrote on Twitter. The witch hunt trials were conducted with the "absence of evidence" in which "innocent victims were hanged or pressed to death," she said.

The mass hysteria that gripped the community of Salem in 1692 led to scores of people being jailed for witchcraft.

Nineteen people were hanged and their bodies tossed into a shallow grave, while an elderly man who refused to plead was crushed to death under stones.

"This situation is much different than the plight of the witch trial victims," Driscoll wrote. "A dubious legal process that bears no relation to televised impeachment."

Driscoll added that there was "ample evidence" in the impeachment case against Trump in which she said the "perpetrators are among the most powerful+privileged."

She then tweeted a link to a book on the history of the Salem witch trials, suggesting that Trump add it to his "holiday shopping list."

US lawmakers are due to convene on Wednesday to start impeachment proceedings against Trump, with the House of Representatives expected to approve two articles of impeachment.

Democrats accuse the president of abusing his office by soliciting Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden and withholding military aid as a means to achieve that goal. He is also alleged to have obstructed Congress's investigation of the affair.

dpa