Dems call for emergency hearing in wake of attacks stemming from 'white supremacist views'

Dems call for emergency hearing in wake of attacks stemming from 'white supremacist views'
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are calling for an emergency hearing focused on the "unprecedented" white supremacist-inspired violence in the U.S.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, and Reps. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeFormer interpreter for US troops in Afghanistan detained by CBP, threatened with deportation The Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days Dems move to protect Mueller in new Congress MORE (D-Texas) and Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenTV station concedes it doesn't know why CNN turned down 'local view' on border Dem introduces bills to eliminate Electoral College, stop presidents from pardoning themselves Dems move to protect Mueller in new Congress MORE (D-Tenn.) sent a letter Monday to Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end Murkowski to reintroduce bill to help abused Native American women FBI hits GOP chairman over push to clear sensitive transcripts by Christmas Eve MORE (R-Va.) asking him to hold a hearing to examine recent hate-inspired violence, saying it is the panel's duty to look into such matters.

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The Democratic lawmakers pointed to three recent incidents from last week: 11 people killed by a gunman in a synagogue in Pittsburgh; more than a dozen explosive devices sent to prominent Democratic political figures; and the deaths of two African-Americans in Kentucky who were shot and killed by a gunman who allegedly tried to carry out a larger-scale attack at a predominately black church.

"In the past week, our nation has borne witness to three acts of terror," the lawmakers wrote to Goodlatte. "This groundswell of violence includes both the largest attempted mass assassination of prominent political figures in American history and the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history. Each of these acts was carried out by an individual understood to espouse white supremacist views."

"Whether it manifests itself as racism or anti-Semitism or xenophobia, white supremacy is white supremacy," they added. "In its modern form, it motivates a fluid and particularly virulent form of domestic terrorism. It must be stopped."

The lawmakers also chided Goodlatte for failing to hold a hearing on the matter sooner, stating that they requested a hearing on white-supremacist violence after the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. last year.

There is a "cost to this inaction," they wrote, pointing to a rise in incidents of antisemitism in the U.S.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (D-Calif.) joined them in their criticism.

The Democratic lawmakers noted that Goodlatte has set a precedent for "interrupting this recess for committee business," like holding transcribed interviews with witnesses as part of an investigation into "decisions made and not made" by FBI and Justice Department officials during the 2016 election season.

"If this work -- which does not, by any stretch, involve the safety of our communities -- merits a break from the campaign trail, surely the emergency now before us deserves our immediate attention as well."

The letter comes after Robert Bowers, a man who expressed anti-Semitic sentiments, was charged for the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

On Friday, federal authorities charged Cesar Sayoc Jr. with sending explosive devices to top Democratic political figures -- many of whom President TrumpDonald John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE has criticized with regularity.

Authorities on Wednesday apprehended Gregory Bush in Jeffersontown, Ky., after he allegedly killed two African-Americans at a supermarket. The fatal shootings came after Bush allegedly tried to enter a predominantly black church nearby to carry out a larger-scale attack.

"Please, let us set aside the politics for however long it takes for us to address this extraordinary threat," the House Democrats wrote.

A Republican House Judiciary Committee aide told The Hill that "there are no hearings planned at this time." The aide also noted that the House passed a resolution this year condemning hate crimes.

Updated at 1:43 p.m.