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House Homeland Security Chair Responds To Democrats' Request For Domestic Terrorism Hearing

The ranking member of the House Homeland Security committee doesn’t think the chairman’s response is “sufficient or adequate” to address Democrats’ request that the committee investigate white supremacy and domestic terrorism.

Last updated on August 16, 2017, at 8:08 p.m. ET

Posted on August 15, 2017, at 5:16 p.m. ET

Members of white nationalist protesters hold shields as they clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.
Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Members of white nationalist protesters hold shields as they clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.

Democrats on the House homeland security committee are not satisfied with the chairman’s Wednesday response to their request for hearings on domestic terrorism following last weekend’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Wednesday, Homeland Security committee Chair Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, sent a letter to Democrats encouraging them to engage with witnesses at an already-scheduled Sept. 12 hearing with their concerns. Ranking Member Bennie Thompson said in an emailed statement to BuzzFeed News the response is “not sufficient or adequate.”

McCaul's letter came after Democrats on the committee urged him to address white nationalism and domestic terrorism. “Unfortunately, it has become clear we cannot count on President Trump for action,” all 12 Democrats on the committee said in a letter to McCaul.

"The September 12 hearing to cover worldwide threats is an annual hearing that was already scheduled prior to the domestic attacks this weekend," Thompson said in a statement to BuzzFeed news on Wednesday. "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 hearing requests and the deaths of many, this is nothing more than attempt to distract from a topic the Republicans are unwilling to address."

McCaul, in his response Wednesday, thanked Democrats — who have made the request to McCaul before — for their letter.

"We must stand together and reject racism, bigotry, and prejudice, including the hateful ideologies promoted by Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and all other white supremacy groups," McCaul wrote. "They do not define who we are as Americans and their repulsive values must not be allowed to infect our neighborhoods and spread violence in our communities."

"Racial intolerance deserves no place in America and it is imperative that we find ways to rid our nation of the scourge of white supremacism," he added.

Trump was highly criticized by members of both parties for his reluctance to call out the hate groups associated with the rally in its immediate aftermath. Under pressure, Trump called out the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists on Monday.

But on Tuesday afternoon, just as the letter was released, Trump held a highly criticized press conference, in which he stuck to his original stance that there was blame on “both sides,” and argued that the “alt-left” had “violently” attacked “the other group” over the weekend.

“Well I do think there’s blame— yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. You look at, you look at both sides, I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either,” Trump said.

The Democrats on the committee argued it’s “past time” for it to address domestic terrorism.

“Even before [Trump] was elected, many of us were concerned that his unwillingness to denounce and distance himself from white nationalists would be taken as tacit support by those ready to use violence to advance their racist ideology,” Democrats wrote in the letter to McCaul. “As leaders of the legislative branch of government, we must stand up to all ideologically-motivated violence.”

CORRECTION

Chairman Michael McCaul had previously scheduled a hearing on "worldwide threats" slated to take place next month. A previous version of this post said that McCaul scheduled the hearing in light of the events in Charlottesville after Democrats requested one.


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