President Trump was briefly moved to the White House bunker on Friday evening as protests were being held near the White House, CBS News confirmed. A senior administration official said the action was taken out of an abundance of caution.
Mr. Trump had no public events on his schedule Sunday but was active on social media throughout the day and night, tweeting at one point, “LAW & ORDER!” And he complained that “Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher,” or the federal government would have to “step in,” use the “unlimited power of our military” and make “many arrests.”
Mr. Trump also declared that Antifa would be designated “as a Terrorist Organization,” which may be complicated by the fact that Antifa, short for “anti-fascists,” isn’t really an organization, so much as it is a leaderless movement of disparate leftist and anarchic groups who aim to thwart white nationalism.
But Attorney General William Barr also condemned Antifa, saying, “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.”
Decrying the violent protests across the country over weekend, Barr said, “The voices of peaceful and legitimate protests” had been “hijacked by violent radical extremists.”
Former national security council official Josh Geltzer said in a tweet responding to Mr. Trump that U.S. law “provides for designating ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ & ‘specially designated global terrorists.'” But “it does not provide for designating anything just ‘a Terrorist Organization.'”
Geltzer, now the executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law, told CBS News in a statement, “To the extent the president’s tweet anticipates some executive action declaring Antifa to be ‘terrorist’ as a policy matter, that would be without any basis in law — and without any legal effect.”
On Sunday, the Justice Department deployed the U.S. Marshals and Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Lafayette Park outside the White House to assist the National Guard, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec confirmed to CBS News.
The nation’s capital was rocked by protests throughout the weekend that continued Sunday night. Fires were started and buildings vandalized in the vicinity of the White House. Obscene messages were spray-painted on Blair House — the president’s guest house. Monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial, were also defaced.
Small fires were sets on streets — as well as in the AFL-CIO headquarters lobby and the basement of the historic St. John’s Church. The church, just a few steps away, was built in 1815, across Lafayette Park from the White House; every president since James Madison has attended services there.
Earlier in the day and even as late as about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, the demonstrations near the White House had been relatively calm and peaceful. On the streets protesters chanted, “Hands up” and “What’s his name? George Floyd” and “I can’t breathe.”
Late Sunday evening, police scattered the crowds away from Lafayette Park using flash bangs and tear gas.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser put a curfew in place Sunday to try to restore calm. Usually, there are lights illuminating the White House at night. On Sunday, just before the 11 p.m. curfew, as the protests continued, those White House lights were turned off.
Ben Tracy, Clare Hymes, Fin Gomez, Nikole Killion, Mark Knoller and Julia Boccagno contributed to this report.