Oversight Committee Democrats demand DHS, DOJ investigate white supremacist involvement in protests

Oversight Committee Democrats demand DHS, DOJ investigate white supremacist involvement in protests
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are requesting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launch an investigation into reports of white supremacist groups interfering to instigate violence at peaceful protests. 

The Democrats said the Trump administration is making baseless accusations that antifa is involved in an “effort to delegitimize” the peaceful protests and to “win cheap political points” while ignoring the involvement of white supremacist groups. 

“The Trump Administration’s decision to ignore the involvement of white supremacist groups in these protests in favor of spreading wildly exaggerated rumors about Antifa has only served to encourage right-wing militias provoking violence, to delegitimize the grievances of peaceful protestors, and to add serious danger, intimidation, and fear to already emotionally charged situations,” Democrats wrote in letters Monday to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray and to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf

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The letters are signed by committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyPelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power Government watchdog recommends creation of White House cyber director position Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver On The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles over pandemic MORE (D-Md.) and Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Official: Pentagon has started 'prudent planning' for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel | Trump leans into foreign policy in campaign's final stretch MORE (D-Mass.). 

The Democrats also requested a full briefing by June 30 to “explain what your agencies are doing to tackle” issues regarding white supremacists “instigating violence at peaceful protests.” 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE has repeatedly issued statements claiming antifa is involved in instances of violence at protests.

Barr backed Trump’s claims about antifa in a statement earlier this month in which he said the DOJ will work to identify "criminal organizers and instigators" amid demonstrations. 

"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," Barr said. 

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The Democrats asked the DOJ to “share whatever evidence it has gathered to support” Barr’s allegations by June 25. 

Officials for the DOJ and DHS were not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill. 

At the end of May, Trump tweeted that he was preparing to formally label antifa, which is a decentralized movement, a terrorist organization as nationwide protests broke out over racial inequality and police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd. 

Trump later shared an unfounded conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old man who was pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo, N.Y., could be “an ANTIFA provocateur.” The president cited the right-wing One America News Network in sharing the baseless accusation.