President Donald Trump took new action against Antifa on Tuesday, signing an executive order asking the State Department to evaluate whether the far-left anarchist group should be classified as a terrorist organization.
What’s the background?
Antifa has become an infamous staple throughout Trump’s presidency, often making headlines for engaging in violent clashes with right-wing demonstrators in cities nationwide.
Because of the group’s penchant for violence, Trump has toyed with the idea of officially designating Antifa as a terrorist organization.
Trump said in July 2019, “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others). Would make it easier for police to do their job!”
In August 2019, Trump said, “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.'”
And in May 2020, Trump declared, “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.”
What did the EO say?
Despite Trump’s public declarations, Antifa has not been classified as a terrorist organization. However, Tuesday’s executive order was a concrete step toward such a designation becoming reality.
Trump’s executive order calls on the State Department, Justice Department, and Homeland Security Department to evaluate whether Antifa should be classified as a terrorist organization.
The executive order says:
The Secretary of State shall, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, review information received from the Department of Justice and other authorities to assess whether to classify Antifa as a terrorist organization under section 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi) of title 8, United States Code.
The Secretary of State shall take all appropriate steps, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, to consider listing Antifa in 9 FAM 302.5-4(B)(2)(U) Aliens Who Are Members of an Identified Criminal Organization.
“The Department of Justice has already publicly confirmed that actions by Antifa and similar groups meet the standard for domestic terrorism,” the executive order declares.
“The violence spurred on by Antifa — such as hurling projectiles and incendiary devices at police, burning vehicles, and violently confronting police in defiance of local curfews — is dangerous to human life and to the fabric of our Nation. These violent acts undermine the rights of peaceful protestors and destroy the lives, liberty, and property of the people of this Nation, especially those most vulnerable,” the order says.
Critics say designating Antifa as a terrorist organization is not possible because the group does not have centralized leadership like, say, Al Qaeda.
However, leaked emails from the Department of Homeland Security regarding violence in Portland last summer revealed that Antifa is, in fact, organized.