WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS News) — Several Asian American lawmakers testified Thursday on Capitol Hill on the rise in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the words of former President Trump and other Republicans have inflamed tension.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing was scheduled before a gunman opened fire at three Atlanta-area spas, killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent, dead. The suspected gunman, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, denied the attack was racially motivated but officials said it was still too early to rule out a hate crime. Long told investigators he had a “sex addiction” and viewed the spas as a temptation he wanted to eliminate, officials said.

At Thursday’s hearing, Congresswoman Judy Chu of California, the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, referenced the escalation of attacks against the AAPI community and that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric contributed to the rise in the attacks.

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