Barr and Trump. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement Sunday that the Justice Department will use its network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to identify the "criminal organizers and instigators" of violence during the George Floyd protests, including antifa and similar groups.

Why it matters: Barr, President Trump and other members of the administration have pinned the blame for riots and looting over the past few days of protests against police brutality on antifa, a loosely defined far-left movement that uses violence and direct-action protest tactics.

  • President Trump tweeted on Sunday that the United States will be designating antifa, which is short for "anti-fascist," as a terrorist organization. However, the law that allows the government to designate entities as terrorists only applies to foreign organizations.
  • In addition, antifa is a decentralized organization with no designated leadership, so it may be difficult for federal authorities to determine which agitators belong to the movement.
  • "Terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused," the ACLU tweeted. "Let’s be clear: There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns."

What he's saying:

"Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.
To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF). 
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.”
— Bill Barr

Go deeper

6 mins ago - Health

Texas governor mandates face masks in public spaces

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order Thursday requiring all Texans to wear a face covering in public in counties with 20 or more positive coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: It's a stark reversal for the Republican governor that underscores the seriousness of the outbreak in Texas, which set a single-day record on Wednesday with more than 8,000 confirmed new cases. On June 3, Abbott issued an executive order banning local governments from imposing fines on people who don't wear masks in public.

22 mins ago - Health

Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 10,763,604 — Total deaths: 517,667 — Total recoveries — 5,522,094Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,715,124 — Total deaths: 128,439 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Public health: What we know about the immune response to coronavirus and what it means for a vaccine.
  4. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases — 5 states saw 27% spike in heart-related deaths in first 3 months of coronavirus pandemic.