President Trump said on Sunday the government will designate Antifa — the far-left extremist group his administration says is carrying out violence during the nationwide George Floyd protests — as a “terrorist” organization.
“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” the president said on Twitter.
The designation could put Antifa — short for anti-fascist — under the domestic terror label laid out in the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement agencies to target the entire organization.
However there is no law on the books specifically against providing support to domestic terrorist organizations — unlike foreign terror groups.
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, Attorney General William Barr released a statement saying “violent radical elements” are hijacking legitimate protests to “pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.”
He said federal resources will be coordinated with state and local officials through the existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to apprehend and charge “the violent radical agitators.”
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr said.
In another Tweet, Trump praised the National Guard for the “great job” they did in Minneapolis on Saturday.
“The ANTIFA led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly. Should have been done by Mayor on first night and there would have been no trouble!” Trump tweeted.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered the deployment of the National Guard on Saturday to end the “wanton destruction” caused in Minneapolis during the protests that he blamed on instigators from outside the state — like drug cartels to white supremacists.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien also singled out Antifa for the carnage during the Floyd protests on Sunday.
O’Brien said on ABC News’ “This Week” that the president believes people have a right to protest but not to burn down businesses and loot stores.
“The president’s outraged by that. And we all are. And that has to stop. And we’re calling on the FBI to investigate Antifa and get to the bottom of these violent rioters. And I don’t want them confused with peaceful protesters that have every right to go out to the streets. That’s what makes America different from any other countries around the world,” O’Brien said.
He added that the “Antifa radical militants” come out “under cover of night, traveling across state lines, using military-style tactics to burn down our cities. And they’re especially targeting the most venerable parts of our cities. The minority section, the African-American sections and Hispanic areas and burning down businesses of people that are trying to get a leg up.”