The new Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition filed a federal lawsuit against former President Donald Trump on Thursday, claiming he sparked anti-Asian violence by saying the COVID-19 virus ''came from China.''
According to the complaint, filed by coalition attorney Yu-Xi (Glen) Liu, Trump defamed Asian Americans when he publicly said the coronavirus came from Wuhan, China, causing an increase in hate crimes.
The suit seeks to have Trump pay $1 to each of the nation's 22 million Asian Americans —totaling $22.9 million — as an apology. The money would be used to build a museum celebrating that group's accomplishments, according to the lawsuit.
During his time in office and since, Trump denied any malice, saying the virus came from China, ''is being accurate,'' and was not meant to be ''racist.''
Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller called the lawsuit ''insane and idiotic.''
''This is an insane and idiotic lawsuit that is specious at best, and it will be dismissed if it ever sees a courtroom," Miller told The Hill. "It's a complete joke, and if I was the lawyer that brought it, I'd be worried about getting sanctioned."
The lawsuit also comes on the same day that a House GOP Intelligence Committee report was published claiming there is ''significant circumstantial evidence'' that the virus came from ''a leak at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that the U.S. government 'may have funded or collaborated' in the research that led to it,'' the New York Post reported.
The lawsuit, however, relies on earlier statements from the World Health Organization that said the evidence pointed to natural development and spreading among animals and humans.
''The zoonotic virus is not originated from humans, it transmits from one person to another regardless of gender, age, race, and ethnicity, and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) reports and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bulletins, the origin of the virus was unknown when [the] defendant used these words the first time on March 16, 2020, and still remains unknown on March 16, 2021, when Defendant repeated it again.''
March 16, 2021, is also the day the organization suing Trump legally registered with the state of New York and listed its Chinatown address, according to the state.
The lawsuit also claims Trump's ''racist'' comments about the virus led to an increase of anti-Asian violence.
"When President Trump began and insisted on using the term 'China virus,' we saw that hate speech really led to hate violence," Russell Jeung, chair of the Asian American studies department at San Francisco State University, told USA Today in February. "That sort of political rhetoric and that sort of anti-Asian climate has continued to this day."
Jeung's website tracks such attacks reported 2,808 incidents from the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 through December.
''Against the well-published WHO guidelines and the repeated advice from health officials of his own administration, defendant 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,'' the lawsuit claims.
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