GOP lawmaker calls for hearing on threats from white supremacists

GOP lawmaker calls for hearing on threats from white supremacists
© Greg Nash

A Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday called for a hearing to discuss the violence stemming from the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and threats posed by white nationalism.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteLawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program House votes to crack down on undocumented immigrants with gang ties House Judiciary Dems want panel to review gun silencer bill MORE (R-Va.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote that the panel has a “unique duty to examine the impact recent displays of hatred from white supremacist groups have on civil rights in America.”

“While Congress cannot legislate respect, decency, or acceptance of others, we have an obligation to use our platform to lead our country forward on these matters,” Issa wrote.

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Issa is the first GOP member of the House Judiciary Committee to demand a full committee hearing after the violent Charlottesville clashes between white nationalists protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and counterprotesters.

A House Judiciary Committee aide said Thursday there are no plans to hold a hearing at this point.

Issa, the former House Oversight Committee chairman, is a senior member of the Judiciary panel and chairs a subcommittee on courts, intellectual property and the internet.

He’s also considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent House Republicans heading into 2018 after narrowly winning reelection last year, and he has at times sought to distance himself from President Trump.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car allegedly driven by a reported white supremacist rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE has said the Justice Department is opening a civil rights investigation into the incident.

Democrats have been demanding hearings in the wake of the Charlottesville violence but have had limited success in persuading GOP committee chairmen.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) announced on Wednesday that the panel would offer members an opportunity to discuss the events in Charlottesville during an already-scheduled hearing in September on worldwide security threats.

Homeland Security Committee Democrats had demanded a separate hearing devoted entirely to the threats posed by white supremacist groups.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, called McCaul’s response “completely inadequate.”

“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. After years of requests for Congressional hearings and the deaths of many, this is nothing more than attempt to distract from a topic the Republicans are unwilling to address,” Thompson said in a statement.