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 LeeDems probe DOJ's handling of civil rights violations by law enforcement Reparations: The 'lost cause' of black politics? Dem lawmaker says Trump 'has in many respects become a dictator' MORE (D-Texas) and Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDem rep: Pelosi 'needs to do what's right' and impeach Trump Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats MORE (D-Tenn.) sent a letter Monday to Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling 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 PelosiPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Hillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality 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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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.