Trump's Antifa Fearmongering Looks Like Pure Fantasy - 2020-06-10
Donald Trump has attempted to stoke fears among his base—and perhaps to undermine the protests for racial justice that have erupted in the wake of George Floyd's killing—by suggesting that dangerous antifa operatives have hijacked demonstrations across the country to wreak havoc in American cities. Without evidence, he accused antifa of looting and rioting in Minneapolis. He has suggested that the media is coddling the group, which is "very bad for our country," and vowed to designate the loose collective, with no apparent structure, a terrorist organization. And, on Tuesday, he promoted an outrageous and baseless conspiracy theory that the 75-year-old man knocked down and injured by police in Buffalo during a protest may have been an "ANTIFA provocateur."
To hear Trump and his allies tell it, the Black Lives Matter protests across the country are an utter hotbed of subversive antifa activity. There's just one problem: Though Trump and Attorney General William Barr have blamed antifa for the violence that has sprung up at some of the demonstrations, none of the cases the Department of Justice has brought so far amid the tumult have links to the movement. According to NPR, which reviewed the federal cases that have been brought so far, none of the 51 people who have been rung up on federal charges as of Tuesday had antifa connections. In fact, the only people arrested on federal charges to have a connection to an extremist group were not part of the left, but members of the right-wing Boogaloo movement; three men associated with the group trying to instigate a second Civil War were charged with plotting violence in Las Vegas.
As Barr told Fox News on Monday, the lack of charges against people associated with antifa does not preclude such prosecutions in the future and does not necessarily mean those aligned with the group have not been present for the protests. "We have some investigations underway, very focused on investigations on certain individuals that relate to antifa," the attorney general said. Still, the absence of any cases so far would seem to undercut the president's already-shaky contention that antifa is playing a major role in the protests. If these demonstrations are teeming with antifa chaos agents, as Trump has contended, why has a DOJ seeking to root them out been unable to do so to this point?