Oversight Democrats Seek Update on Administration’s Efforts to Combat Hate Groups

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Washington, January 31, 2018 | comments

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) led 16 Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, including Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), in sending a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly requesting information on the Administration’s efforts to implement Senate Joint Resolution 49. The bipartisan law introduced by Representative Connolly condemned the acts of violence carried out by the KKK, white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia this summer and urged the Trump Administration to take certain actions to condemn, investigate, combat, and report on the horrific and violent actions of hate groups in the United States.

“That weekend in August, the country watched in horror as hate groups descended upon Charlottesville,” the members wrote. “Their disgusting chants and attacks on University of Virginia students and peaceful counter protesters harkened back to an era of hate and violence many of us hoped our country had moved beyond.”

“The silence from the Trump Administration in the days following Charlottesville was an abdication of leadership, exacerbated Americans’ fears, and emboldened vile hate groups,” Connolly said. “In passing Senate Joint Resolution 49, Congress filled the void left by the President and said in one unified voice we unequivocally condemn the shameful and hate-filled acts of violence carried out by the KKK, white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. We need to see real leadership from the White House now.”

In their letter to Kelly the members requested, “a detailed description of the interagency actions and other steps taken by the Administration to respond to the enactment of P.L. 115-58, which condemned the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place on August 11 and 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

To understand how the Administration has responded to the new law, the members asked Kelly to provide answers to the following questions by February 24, 2018:


1. Identify the instances in which the President and the Administration have spoken out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy.

2. Identify actions, including a description thereof, that the President and his Cabinet Secretaries have taken to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.

3. Identify how the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security have worked together to investigate thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation, and domestic terrorism by White supremacists, White nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and associated groups in order to determine if any criminal laws have been violated and to prevent those groups from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.

4. Identify how the Attorney General has worked with the heads of other Federal agencies to improve the reporting of hate crimes and to emphasize the importance of the collection, and the reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of hate crime data by State and local agencies.


The letter was signed by Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, and Representatives Connolly, Maloney, Clay, Cooper, Lawrence, Norton, Lynch, Kelly, Watson Coleman, Krishnamoorthi, Welch, Desaulnier, Raskin, Cartwright and Gomez.


The full letter follows and is available here:

The Honorable John F. Kelly
Chief of Staff
The White House
Washington, DC 20006

Dear General Kelly,

We write to request a detailed description of the interagency actions and other steps taken by the Administration to respond to the enactment of P.L. 115-58, which condemned the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place on August 11 and 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The law urged the Administration to take certain actions to condemn, investigate, combat, and report on the horrific and violent actions of hate groups in the United States.

That weekend in August, the country watched in horror as hate groups descended upon Charlottesville. Their disgusting chants and attacks on University of Virginia students and peaceful counter protesters harkened back to an era of hate and violence many of us hoped our country had moved beyond. Unfortunately, according to government data it is clear that such hate still plagues our country. An April 2017 report by the Government Accountability Office found that far-right violent extremist groups were responsible for 73 percent of the deadly terror attacks that occurred in the United States between September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2016.

Following the white supremacist rallies in August 2017 that resulted in a deadly attack that claimed the life of Heather Heyer, Congress took swift action to pass Senate Joint Resolution 49. The resolution condemned the white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville in order to fill the vacuum created by the President’s equivocations on the matter.

To understand how the Administration has responded to P.L. 115-58, please provide the following information as soon as possible, but no later than February 24, 2018:

1. Identify the instances in which the President and the Administration have spoken out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy.

2. Identify actions, including a description thereof, that the President and his Cabinet Secretaries have taken to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.

3. Identify how the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security have worked together to investigate thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation, and domestic terrorism by White supremacists, White nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and associated groups in order to determine if any criminal laws have been violated and to prevent those groups from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.

4. Identify how the Attorney General has worked with the heads of other Federal agencies to improve the reporting of hate crimes and to emphasize the importance of the collection, and the reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of hate crime data by State and local agencies.

Please contact Collin Davenport with Representative Gerald E. Connolly at (202) 225-1492 with any questions about this letter. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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