The Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition wants $23m from the former president, who repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as the Chinese virus, Wuhan virus, and Kung Flu while in office.
In the text of a March 2020 speech, Trump crossed out “coronavirus” and replaced it with “Chinese virus”.
His legal foes say he was wrong to use the term because, they claim, it’s unclear where the virus actually originated. However, it’s widely accepted that it emerged from China.
Asking for damages for defamation and inflection of emotional distress, the coalition wants Trump to pay the equivalent of a single dollar for every Asian American and Pacific Islander living in the US, which amounts to about $23m.
If the case is successful - a long shot, if we’re honest - the group says it will use the money to pay for a museum showcasing the contribution of Asian Americans to US culture.
A study of major US cities in March showed there had been a nearly 150 per cent surge in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020.
The former president has previously defended his use of the language. “It’s not racist at all. It comes from China. I want to be accurate,” he said in March last year.