May 2, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Senators say Trump admin. minimizing white supremacist terrorism

Senators Dick Durbin, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris

Democratic senators Dick Durbin, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Photo: Getty Images

Seven Democratic senators admonished the Trump administration in a letter on Thursday to Attorney General William Barr, arguing that it's minimizing the growing white nationalist terrorism threat in the U.S. and hasn't done enough to prevent attacks.

Details: The letter, which is also signed by 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, comes after Justice Department and FBI officials told Senate Judiciary Committee staff last week that the administration "has shifted its approach to tracking domestic terrorism incidents to obfuscate the white supremacist threat," the senators wrote.

  • For the past decade, the FBI has been using a separate category to track white supremacist incidents. But the senators said staffers were told that the administration created a new category for "racially-motivated violent extremism." They wrote: This approach "inappropriately combines incidents involving white supremacists and so-called 'black identity extremists.'"
"Given the large number of white supremacist attacks, we are deeply concerned that this reclassification downplays the significance of the white supremacist threat. The inherent problem with this approach was demonstrated by the fact that the briefers provided statistics on racially motivated violent extremism ... but could not say how many involved white supremacist violence, other than to acknowledge they were 'a majority' of the incidents. If we do not understand the scope of the problem, we cannot effectively address it."
ā€” The letter reads

Barr has until Mary 23 to specify what actions are being taken by DOJ and the FBI to respond to the threat of white supremacist violence and whether he would rescind the change and return to the long-standing practice of tracking white supremacist violence. The lawmakers also asked Barr if he agrees with Trump's recent remark that white nationalists are "a small group of people."

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