Dems demand answers on Trump efforts to aid white supremacists


Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill

Sixty-five House Democrats, led by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), sent letters today to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan seeking an explanation of the Trump administration’s hampering of an effective, coordinated response to the growing threat of white supremacist extremist violence.

Their oversight letter followed revelations that, despite high profile white supremacist-motivated acts of terrorism including the mass shooting in El Paso earlier this month, and despite warnings from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Congress, the Trump Administration has been slow to address the threat of domestic terrorism, and may even have prevented federal law enforcement agencies from taking more forceful action. The 65 signatories included El Paso’s U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX).

The representatives wrote:

“We are concerned that the Trump administration is jeopardizing our national security by failing to take domestic terrorism seriously. In particular, this administration is failing to address white supremacist extremist violence, the leading cause of domestic terrorism. Despite the growing toll of American lives lost, most recently in El Paso, TX, white supremacist-motivated terror is not being met with the vigorous, systematic and coordinated response which this threat requires from the federal government.

“… it is deeply concerning that the final National Counterterrorism Strategy made no mention of white supremacist extremist violence and only a passing mention of domestic terrorism. It is unacceptable that political interference from the White House should prevent domestic terrorism from receiving the elevated level of focus it deserves, especially following recent, high profile terrorist attacks.

“Two years ago, your agencies released a report entitled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” which highlighted the finding that white supremacists had carried out more attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 than any other extremist ideology, and that more attacks were expected.  Despite the conclusions of that report, the Administration’s budget requests have attempted to decrease funding direction toward these threats in the last two fiscal years.  As a consequence of the Trump Administration’s ideologically motivated attempts to downplay the threat of white nationalist extremist violence, funding and personnel requests have not reflected real-world conditions. 

“Taken together, these developments give the strong impression that the Trump Administration may be endangering American lives by politicizing law enforcement and interfering with the operation of the agencies you lead. The deadly events in El Paso, TX, Pittsburgh, PA, Poway, CA, Jeffersontown, KY, Charlottesville, VA, Charleston, SC, and elsewhere make it clear that this white nationalist extremist violence is a growing threat to people in every part of the United States.”

The representatives followed with a series of questions for further information and action by the FBI and DHS, requesting a response within one month. Full text of the letter follows below, and a signed copy is available here.

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