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.

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 32,595,105 — Total deaths: 989,663 — Total recoveries: 22,508,651Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 7,034,432 — Total deaths: 203,789 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: