White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Psaki said Trump’s rhetoric about Asian Americans led to increased violence against the community.
She said Trump calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” and other similar terms led to “elevated threats.”
Her comments came as authorities investigated massage-parlor shootings that killed six Asian women.
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The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Wednesday that there was “no question” former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about the coronavirus played a role in escalating attacks on Asian Americans.
Psaki’s comment came during the daily White House briefing when a reporter pressed her on why President Joe Biden said he didn’t want to comment on the motive of 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who was arrested and charged with murder in connection with three Atlanta-area massage-parlor shootings that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
“To broaden it out, why does the president think attacks on Asian Americans are increasing in this country?” the reporter asked Psaki.
“I think there’s no question that some of the damaging rhetoric that we saw during the prior administration, blaming – calling COVID, you know, the ‘Wuhan virus’ or other things led to, you know, perceptions of the Asian American community that are inaccurate, unfair that have … elevated threats against Asian Americans, and we’re seeing that around the country,” Psaki said.
“That’s why, even before the horrific events of last night, he felt it was important to raise this issue” and “elevate it during his first prime-time address, why he signed the executive order earlier in his presidency,” Psaki added, referring to Biden’s January 26 memorandum condemning violence and racism against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
The president “will continue to look for ways to elevate and talk about this issue moving forward,” Psaki said.
Addressing Biden’s refusal to attribute a motive to the killings, Psaki said the president didn’t want to get ahead of an ongoing FBI investigation into the matter.
Long told police the attack was not racially motivated and said he had a sex addition.
“There are law-enforcement authorities who do that, and it’s important to know when the investigation is concluded or not, so that was a bar he was working to respect there,” Psaki said of the investigation and Biden’s refusal to comment on the motivation.
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