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President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

  • A senior White House official told me that on Sunday morning, President Trump discussed the move with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Attorney General Bill Barr.
  • Then, at 12:23pm, Trump tweeted: "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization."

Yes, but: There currently is no law under which Trump could formally designate antifa, a loosely defined and domestic movement, as a terrorist organization. Only the State Department can designate foreign groups as terrorist organizations.

  • Mark Bray, author of "Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook," wrote of Trump's tweet: "To explain a little: it's like calling bird-watching an organization. Yes, there are bird-watching organizations as there are Antifa organizations but neither bird-watching nor antifa is an organization."

About an hour after Trump's tweet, Barr said in a statement that antifa protesters were engaged in domestic terrorism.

  • "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."
  • "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."

Go deeper: DOJ to treat antifa involvement in protests as domestic terrorism

Go deeper

Portland shooting suspect killed by officers

The suspect, Michael Reinoehl, is seen during a protest in front of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's house on Aug. 28. Photo: Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP

Michael Forest Reinoehl, the man wanted for killing a right-wing activist during a pro-Trump rally in Portland last weekend, was shot dead as federal law enforcement attempted to take him into custody overnight, The Oregonian reports.

The state of play: A U.S. Marshals Service spokesperson said that Reinoehl produced a gun during the encounter, leading federal agents to fire back. Reinoehl had described himself in a social media posts as "100% ANTIFA" and suggested the tactics of counter-protesters amounted to "warfare," per the AP.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: About 400 to 450 people were inside the protest area, excluding law enforcement, U.S. Capitol Police said.