On Sunday, President Trump announced that he plans to designate the radical leftist group Antifa a terrorist organization, a move that many people is long overdue.
“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” the president announced in a midday tweet.
The president’s announcement came after another night of rioting across the country over the death of an African-American man at the hands of Minneapolis police. Cities across the country were consumed by clashes between protesters and police and countless fires and other criminal acts ranging from looting and theft to assault on officers and the use of incendiary devises.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that the rioting in most cities was being instigated by outsiders aligned with Antifa.
“The reports we’re receiving is that this is Antifa. They’re crossing state lines,” O’Brien said. “And we’ve seen this happen before. We saw it in Portland. We saw it in Seattle. We saw it in Berkeley. So, look, we’ll keep our eyes open for anyone else that wants to take advantage of the situation, whether it’s domestic or foreign.
“But right now I think the president and Attorney General want — [William] Barr wants to know what the FBI has been doing to surveil, to disrupt, to take down Antifa, to prosecute them,” he added. “This isn’t the first time they’re out there and they’re using military-style tactics and traveling around the country to take advantage of these situations and burn down our cities. And that can’t be tolerated.”
Antifa, which stands for “anti-fascist,” is a movement that lacks official leaders, but encompasses local groups, according to the New York Times. Supporters have said the group’s goals justify the use of violence.
Some of the group’s tactics include throwing bricks, crowbars, metal chains, water bottles, and balloons filled with urine and feces, according to the Anti- Defamation League.
Yet, Politico and CNN immediately defends the group, claiming that the president has no power to make such a declaration.
Under current law, the State Department can designate foreign organizations as terrorist groups. But the U.S. has no domestic terrorism statute, and the FBI uses other legal authorities to prosecute domestic terrorism here.
Shortly after the president’s tweet on Sunday, Barr released a second statement on the unrest.
“With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements,” he said. “Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda. It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it.”
Barr said the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) would work to identify suspects and coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Those task forces handle both foreign and domestic terrorist threats.
“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 concluded.
Barr did not mention the president’s tweet, nor did his statement legally designate antifa as a terrorist organization. Designating a terrorist group is typically a lengthy process requiring careful legal review, as well as proof of foreign ties.
“There currently exists no legal authority to designate domestic organizations as terror organizations, and any such designation would raise serious First Amendment concerns,” said Mary McCord, who heads Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and who formerly helmed the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
McCord said she found the last sentence of Barr’s statement — quoted above — to be troubling, since the attorney general did not cite evidence or intelligence connecting antifa or others on the left to the violence.
Even defining antifa can present challenges.
“To explain a little: it’s like calling bird-watching an organization,” tweeted Mark Bray, author of “Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook. Yes, there are bird-watching organizations as there are Antifa organizations, but neither bird-watching nor antifa is an organization.”
CNN called the president “crazy” for make such an announcement.
Many people say that the real “crazy” thing is the leftist media’s defense of these anarchists who are murdering federal officers.