Top Democrat Kaine asks FBI to ‘fully investigate anti-Semitic incidents’

Virginia lawmaker wants ‘assurance’ that wave of ‘coordinated anti-Semitic attacks are being given the serious attention they deserve’

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, then a vice presidential candidate, speaks in New York on November 9, 2016.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, then a vice presidential candidate, speaks in New York on November 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON — Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) wants the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a full investigation into a wave of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country that has “heightened fear and anxiety in Jewish communities nationwide.”

In an open letter Tuesday to FBI Director James Comey, Kaine urged the agency to devote all its resources to fully scrutinizing the phenomenon.

The last week has seen multiple anti-Semitic incidents, including vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania and Missouri and numerous bomb threats to Jewish institutions, including 29 on Monday alone, the fifth wave of such scares since January.

“These reports make it even more important that law enforcement entities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, swiftly investigate cowardly acts of hate against vulnerable communities, including the young students of Gesher Jewish Day School,” Kaine wrote, referring to a school in Fairfax, Virginia.

Kaine’s letter came just hours after President Donald Trump reportedly told a group of state attorneys general visiting the White House that he suspected the bomb threat calls may be planted out of political motives.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D), who is Jewish, described the meeting to a BuzzFeed reporter, and said that Trump referred to the calls — which have forced the evacuation of nearly 100 Jewish community centers and other institutions nationwide — as “reprehensible.”

US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the National Governors Association and his administration before a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House, February 27, 2017, in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)
US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the National Governors Association and his administration before a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House, February 27, 2017, in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

But he also said, “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people – or to make others – look bad,” according to Shapiro, who added that Trump said it was “the reverse” two or three times but did not clarify what he meant.

The White House denied Shapiro’s description of Trump’s comments. “This is not what he said or meant,” a White House spokesperson told the The New York Daily News.

In his letter to Comey, Kaine, who was Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election, noted that the rise in anti-Semitic attacks has been part of an overall increase in hate crimes, according to FBI statistics.

“The rise in anti-Semitism follows a general increase of reported incidents of hate crimes against individuals and institutions for their actual or perceived racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual identities,” he said. “Your Bureau’s annual report on hate crimes reported a 7 percent increase from 2015, including a 67 percent rise in crimes against Muslims in 2015.”

Kaine acknowledged that standard FBI practice prevents it from disclosing its investigative work. But he asked that the Bureau assure the public — and the American Jewish community in particular — that the issue was being addressed.

“While I am aware of Bureau policy prohibiting discussion of ongoing investigations, I hope you may be able to provide some assurance that this recent set of coordinated anti-Semitic attacks are being given the serious attention they deserve,” he said. “I am in dialogue with affected communities and would like to allay their concerns.”

Most Popular
read more: