GOP chairman to discuss Charlottesville as domestic terrorism at hearing

GOP chairman to discuss Charlottesville as domestic terrorism at hearing
© Greg Nash
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) announced Wednesday that the committee would discuss last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va., as domestic terrorism during an upcoming hearing. 
 
McCaul made the announcement in a letter to the committee's ranking member, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who had previously requested that the committee hold a separate hearing on hate groups and domestic terrorism. 
 
The Republican chairman calls for members of both parties to engage in the hearing and discuss "dangers posed by domestic terrorists and other extremist groups."
 
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The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12
 
McCaul said he had invited the heads of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center to the hearing. 
 
Thompson called the announcement, which was a response to his request for a special hearing dedicated to addressing white supremacy groups, "completely inadequate."
 
"The September 12 hearing to cover worldwide threats is an annual hearing that was scheduled prior to the domestic terrorism attacks last weekend," Thompson said in a statement. 
 
"It will not allow us to go into the depth necessary to address the far ranging and multifaceted aspects of the threat posed by domestic terrorist threats from white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups," he continued. "Many [Republicans] have distanced themselves from the actions of these hateful, evil groups – but talk is cheap. The American people will be judging them by their inaction."
 
Violent clashes erupted Saturday in Charlottesville, a college town, during a large gathering of white supremacists and neo-Nazi demonstrators. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and at least 19 were injured when a car drove into a crowd of counterprotesters. The alleged driver, a 20-year-old Ohio man, is accused of having ties to white supremacist groups.
 
Many lawmakers from both parties have called the act domestic terrorism and have called on President Trump to label it as such.
 
Trump ignited a firestorm Saturday when he condemned “violence on many sides” at the event. He condemned hate and bigotry in a Sunday speech but doubled down on the idea that "both sides" were to blame for violence during a Tuesday press briefing.
 
“You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest," Trump said, referencing those protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. 
 
“Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch," he said. 
 
Several Republicans, including House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit Former Trump aide says he canceled CNN appearance over 'atrocious' Helsinki coverage MORE (Wis.) and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, have issued statements decrying the groups in attendance.