5 key moments from Congress’ hearing about anti-Asian violence in the wake of the Atlanta shootings

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Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

  • Two days after the Atlanta shootings, the House held a hearing to address anti-Asian violence.
  • One Republican lawmaker pointed the finger at China and invoked a saying glorifying lynchings.
  • Democrats zeroed in on Trump’s rhetoric and witnesses described the US’s history of scapegoating immigrants.
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A House judiciary subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to address discrimination and violence against Asian-Americans. The nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate has documented nearly 3,800 incidents of physical assault, shunning, verbal and online harassment, and civil rights violations against the AAPI community in the US since March 2020, when COVID-19 cases began to surge.

In addition to taking place amid a spike in anti-Asian violence across the country, Thursday’s hearing came days after a series of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, has been arrested and charged with murder in connection to the shootings.

Here are 5 key moments from Thursday’s hearing

  • Rep. Chip Roy employed whataboutism to point the finger at China.
    • “I think the Chinese Communist Party running the country of China, I think they are the bad guys,” the Texas Republican said. “I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern day slavery.”
    • What they are doing to Uighurs … what they are doing targeting our country … what they are doing to undermine our national security, and what they are doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they are doing to build up their military and rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation,” he added. “And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation.”
  • Roy quoted an old saying glorifying lynchings at a hearing about racist violence.
    • All “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice,” Roy said. He then tacked on: “There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys.”

  • Rep. Grace Meng grew emotional while firing back at Roy.
    • “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids,” Meng said.
    • The New York congresswoman choked up as she continued, “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”
  • Democrats accuse Trump and Republicans of fueling anti-Asian hate by using inflammatory rhetoric about COVID-19.
    • Several Democratic lawmakers skewered the former president and his allies for using terms like “Wuhan virus,” “China virus,” and “Kung flu” to describe the coronavirus pandemic.
    • “As we look at the outrage, let me put into the record: the 45th president always referred to coronavirus as the ‘China virus’ or ‘Kung flu,'” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. “Let me call his name: President Trump.”
    • “The rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans is inherently tied to anti-Asian American rhetoric, some of which has come out of this very chamber,” said freshman congresswoman Cori Bush. She went on to say that when such rhetoric is used by historically privileged groups, they “have to own that it causes harm to people, especially people of color” because there are “lives at stake.”
  • Witnesses highlighted the US’s long history of scapegoating immigrants and minorities in times of crisis.
    • “As shocking as these incidents are, it is so vital to understand that they are not random acts perpetrated by deranged individuals,” said Erika Lee, a professor of history and Asian-American studies at the University of Minnesota. “They are an expression of our country’s long history of systemic racism targeting Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
    • “We have heard in the past 24 hours many describe anti-Asian discrimination and racial violence as un-American,” she added. “Unfortunately, it is very American.”
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Republican Rep. Chip Roy uses hearing about anti-Asian violence in the wake of the Atlanta shootings to complain about China

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Rep. Chip Roy.

  • GOP Rep. Chip Roy used his opening statement at a hearing about anti-Asian violence to complain about China.
  • The hearing took place in the wake of a series of deadly Atlanta-area shootings that killed 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women.
  • “What they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation,” Roy said of the Chinese government.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas used his opening statement at a congressional hearing about anti-Asian violence to complain about the Chinese government and the coronavirus.

Thursday’s hearing, held by the House Judiciary Committee, comes two days after a series of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested on murder charges on Wednesday in connection to the shootings.

In his opening statement, Roy said the shootings were a tragedy, that “all Americans deserve protection and to live in a free and secure society,” and that the “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice.”

He went on to criticize the hearing, saying: “My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”

Then Roy employed whataboutism – a Soviet-era propaganda tactic used to deflect blame – as he launched into a tirade against the Chinese government.

“I think the Chinese Communist Party running the country of China, I think they are the bad guys,” he said. “I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern day slavery.”

“What they are doing to Uighurs … what they are doing targeting our country … what they are doing to undermine our national security, and what they are doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they are doing to rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation,” Roy continued. “And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation.”

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

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A GOP lawmaker objected to seating US representatives from battleground states in response to colleagues that plan to object to the presidential election results

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Roy is among a group of House Republicans that have said they do not support the effort to vote against certification of the Electoral College vote.

  • GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas objected to seating 67 elected House members from battleground states today, in response to his colleagues that plan to object to certifying the presidential election results.
  • Roy said “it would confound basic human reason if the presidential results were to face objection while the congressional results of the same process escaped without public scrutiny.”
  • At least 140 House Republicans are planning to vote against certifying the presidential election results on Wednesday, though the effort cannot affect the results of the vote in any US state.
  • Roy is among a group of seven House Republicans that have said they do not support the effort to vote against certification of the Electoral College vote.
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Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas objected to seating 67 elected House members from battleground states today, in response to his colleagues that plan to object to certifying the presidential election results.

Roy, who does not support objecting to the presidential results, said in a statement that “it would confound basic human reason if the presidential results were to face objection while the congressional results of the same process escaped without public scrutiny.”

He objected to seating representatives from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, citing his colleagues that have said they will object to the presidential electors from those states on the basis that their elections were subject to “statewide, systemic fraud and abuse.”

President Donald Trump and his allies have spread claims of fraud since the election, however none have held up in court and the Justice Department said it found no evidence of fraud that would affect the outcome.

Roy argued that if those allegations raise significant doubts about the presidential election, they should also call the congressional races into question, as they all occured under the same election systems.

His objections did not block the seating of the House members, as the 117th Congress was sworn in on Sunday.

 

President-elect Joe Biden won the election by receiving 306 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 232. The results have been certified in every state, and presidential electors cast their votes last month.

The electors’ votes are due to be certified Wednesday during a joint session of Congress that is usually procedural, confirming the winner that voters and the Electoral College have already chosen.

But at least 140 House Republicans are reportedly planning to vote against certifying the presidential election results on Wednesday due to the unsubstantiated fraud claims.

Their objections could delay the certification of the election, but would not alter the vote results of any US state.

Roy is among a group of seven House Republicans that have said they do not support the effort to vote against certification of the Electoral College vote.

In a statement on Sunday, the group, led by Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, said they believe there are “profound questions” regarding the integrity of the election, but that “only the states have authority to appoint electors.”

“Congress has only a narrow role in the presidential election process,” the statement read. “Its job is to count the electors submitted by the states, not to determine which electors the states should have sent.”

In his statement about objecting to seating House members, Roy said if Congress is going to “adequately address” the concerns over the presidential election, then it must be consistent in doing so.

“Anything less would strip the current efforts of their legitimacy and make it look like a political stunt, rather than a good-faith effort to restore confidence in our electoral process,” he said.

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Majority of House Republicans support a lawsuit that aims to overturn the will of voters and hand 2020 election to Trump

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A protester in Pennsylvania holds a sign that reads “Count Every Vote.”

  • A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed on to an amicus brief asking the US Supreme Court to effectively overturn the results of the 2020 election.
  • The letter asks the Supreme Court to recognize the alleged right of Republican-led legislatures to ignore the popular vote and select electors who will support outgoing President Donald Trump.
  • No evidence of widespread fraud has been presented by the loser of the 2020 election or his allies.
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A majority of House Republicans have formally expressed their opposition to recognizing the democratic outcome of the 2020 election, signing an amicus brief siding with a Texas lawsuit that aims to discard the will of voters in battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump lost the November election in a relative landslide: 7 million more people voted for his opponent than for him, leaving the outgoing president with 232 votes in the Electoral College to 306 for Biden. But the lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeks to undo the outcome, specifically by throwing out the votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, replacing the will of the people with pro-Trump electors appointed by the states’ Republican-led legislatures.

And at least 106 elected Republicans in the House of Representatives agree with that strategy, submitting a brief with the US Supreme Court that “defends the constitutional authority of state legislatures as the only bodies duly authorized to establish the manner by which presidential electors are appointed.”

Outside of those who are retiring, there are members who signed the letter who were returned to office in an election they now claim is illegitimate.

The litigation is highly unlikely to succeed; under the US Constitution, states administer their own elections, Texas provides no say over how they are run in Pennsylvania and vice versa. However, it signals a willingness on the part of many if not most elected Republicans to subvert democracy and their own commitment states’ rights for sheer partisan gain.

No evidence of widespread fraud has been uncovered, either by Trump’s lawyers, his Department of Justice, or Republican officials who oversaw voting in the states at issue, and certainly none sufficient to justify unprecedented intervention by judges that, as recourse, would effectively rob tens of millions of people of their right to vote – after their vote has already been cast, based on the results of them being counted.

Though in the minority, some elected Republicans have recognized that. On Wednesday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn told CNN he was “unconvinced” by what he characterized as the dubious legal arguments put forward by his state’s attorney general, who has since been joined by 17 other states.

Another Texan, Rep. Chip Roy, was more forceful, on Thursday calling the brief filed by his colleagues “a dangerous violation of federalism,” if not democratic values, saying he “cannot support an effort that will almost certainly fail… and is inconsistent with my beliefs about protecting Texas sovereignty from the meddling of other states.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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