Civil Rights Group Suing Donald Trump for ‘China Virus’ Label

President Donald Trump walks across the tarmac to board Air Force One at in Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, to travel to Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy to attend the 121st Army-Navy Football Game at West Point, N.Y. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Former President Donald Trump’s use of the term “China virus” last year as a descriptive for the coronavirus has sparked a lawsuit by a civil rights group.

The federal complaint by the Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition (CACRC) alleges Trump’s turn of phrase along with similar terminology did harm to the Chinese American community, according to a report carried by TMZ.

Trump first made the public link between China and the virus origins in March last year, as Breitbart News reported.

“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus,” Trump said in a Tweet. “We will be stronger than ever before!”

According to The Hill, the suit states Trump’s “extreme and outrageous conduct was carried out throughout the pandemic with reckless disregard of whether such conduct would cause Chinese Americans to suffer emotional distress,” echoing claims made by Beijing at the time.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Trump’s message by complaining it had “smeared China” by noting the global pandemic currently underway began there.

“We call on the U.S. to stop finger-pointing at China. The utmost priority is for the international community to cooperate on fighting the virus,” spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular government briefing. “The U.S. should focus on its top priority, and play a constructive role in international cooperation on health security.”

Actor George Takei also took offense, contending the phrase is “sending a signal to the haters in his constituency.”

The Star Trek actor, in an appearance on the left-wing network MSNBC, said Trump’s decision to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” sends “a cold chill throughout the Asian-American community” and added Trump is “sending a signal to the haters in his constituency, and there are plenty of them there.”

Jason Miller, senior adviser for Trump, dismissed such claims. He told The Hill  “this is an insane and idiotic lawsuit that is specious at best, and it will be dismissed if it ever sees a courtroom.”

“It’s a complete joke, and if I was the lawyer that brought it I’d be worried about getting sanctioned.”

Trump has always defended his use of the term, saying “it comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accurate” however the lawsuit challenges this logic, claiming the origins of the virus have not been firmly established.

The plaintiffs allege former President Trump knew this as he made his claims. The suit further claims Trump should have realized words have impact.

“The truth matters, words have consequences… especially from those in powerful and influential positions,” the complaint states. “[Trump] intentionally repeated those defamatory words to serve his own personal and political interest with astonishing level of actual malice and negligence, hence severely injuring the Chinese/Asian Americans communities in the process.”

According to The Hill, CACRC is asking for $1 for every Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) in the United States, which would total $22.9 million.

The plaintiffs said they would use the money to establish a museum in the U.S. to showcase the history and accomplishments of the AAPI community.

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