Jeh Johnson, former President Barack Obama’s homeland security secretary, on Monday said President Trump doesn’t have the authority to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.
“First of all, Antifa is a movement — it is not a discernible group of people,” Mr. Johnson said on CNN. “Second, the State Department has the authority to designate a foreign terrorist organization as such, like al Qaeda or the Islamic State, which brings about all sorts of sanctions and other things.”
“But there is no legal authority in the United States Code or the Constitution to designate a domestic movement as a terrorist organization,” he said.
Mr. Johnson also said the president does not have “unlimited powers” “to unleash the military here in the United States to make arrests.”
Mr. Trump on Sunday had said the U.S. would designate Antifa, the left-wing anti-fascist street movement, as a terrorist group amid widespread protests following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minnesota while in police custody.
Attorney General William P. Barr on Sunday said the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been “hijacked” by “violent radical elements.”
“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,” Mr. Barr said.