Congress to Trump: It’s time to condemn white supremacy, please

Congress is trying to force him and his administration to condemn white supremacy.
September 13, 2017, 11:30am

Following President Trump’s widely criticized response to the violent riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, Congress is trying to force him and his administration to condemn white supremacy.

On Tuesday, the House and Senate sent the White House a joint resolution, which passed with unanimous support, that condemns the “racist violence” in Charlottesville and calls on the president and his administration to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy.”

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The legislation also labels the death of Heather Heyer — who died after James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville — a “domestic terror attack” and urges the Department of Homeland Security to investigate white supremacist violence and terrorism.

Under federal law, no standalone charge for domestic terrorism exists. Instead, federal anti-terrorism statutes target individuals with links to, or inspired by, foreign groups. It’s unclear if Congress labeling Fields, who was charged with second-degree murder, as a domestic terrorist will have any impact on his legal case.

Read: The case of a white supremacist charged with murdering a black man may help redefine “terrorism”

The terms of Congress’ Tuesday resolution stand in stark contrast to Trump’s multiple responses to Charlottesville, which initially blamed the violence on “both sides” and argued there were “very fine people” among the white supremacist rioters.

Now, Trump has 10 days to decide whether to sign the bill, and the administration has yet to comment.

In the meantime, Trump will discuss Charlottesville and racism in the Oval Office Wednesday with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate’s sole black Republican. After Trump’s initial response to the tragedy, Scott told VICE News that Trump’s “moral authority [was] compromised.”

Read: The Charlottesville suspect was known as “The Nazi” of his high school

Carter Sherman contributed to this report.