Trump considering labeling antifa a terrorist organization

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE declared Saturday he is considering labeling the militant anti-fascist movement antifa a terrorist organization. 

“Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others),” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Would make it easier for police to do their job!” 

The announcement is red meat to the president’s conservative base that has railed against what it sees as a growing liberal threat to its free speech led by antifa.

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The anti-fascist movement has gained notoriety as supporters donning black costumes have engaged conservative activists in confrontations that have sometimes devolved into violent clashes.

Antifa most recently drew headlines after conservative journalist Andy Ngo was bloodied during a confrontation with militant protesters in Portland, Ore. 

Trump’s announcement comes just days after GOP Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyObstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills Key House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements MORE (La.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference GOP counsel says both Ukraine, Russia interfered in 2016 U.S. elections MORE (Texas) introduced a nonbinding resolution that would label antifa activists as “domestic terrorists.”

“Antifa are terrorists, violent masked bullies who ‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism, protected by Liberal privilege,” Cassidy said in a statement. “Bullies get their way until someone says no. Elected officials must have courage, not cowardice, to prevent terror.” 

The designation allows law enforcement to examine suspects’ known associations and affiliations. 

Though conservatives and centrists have said the group is dangerous at worst and unhelpful at best, critics of labeling the group a terrorist organization say the move could lead to overly broad enforcement.

“It is dangerous and overly broad to use labels that are disconnected [from] actual individual conduct,” Hina Shamsi, director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Washington Post this week. “And as we’ve seen how ‘terrorism’ has been used already in this country, any such scheme raises significant due process, equal protection and First Amendment constitutional concerns.”