Attorney General William Barr says the book is not yet closed on the rioters whose recent spree of destruction has torched businesses, defaced property and toppled statues of Founding Fathers, abolitionists and anyone else who becomes a target.
Barr spoke out during Thursday’s episode of the podcast “Verdict,” which is hosted by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and conservative commentator Michael Knowles.
Knowles asked Barr, “How do we restore order?”
Barr noted that different levels of government have different roles.
“The federal government is best positioned to address this kind of violence and lawlessness after it occurs because we don’t have FBI agents walking the beat,” Barr said.
“When the real violence started around May 25, 26, so forth, we started using our joint terrorist task forces around the country, and there are 35 of them around the country. It involves all state and local in those jurisdictions and all the federal agencies. And it’s the system we designed to follow terrorists.
“And now they are starting to go full bore, cranking out investigations, indictments against the people who are involved in this violence,” Barr said.
The investigations are already bearing fruit, he said.
“We’ve had scores of indictments already for such things as arson, destruction of federal property, things like that. And we have right now about 500 investigations underway,” Barr added.
“So it’s picking up pace and we are committed to holding accountable the people who are engaged in this. But we still have to try to stop it before it happens. And that’s where the burden is right now on state and local. And in many places, they’re not stepping up to the plate.”
Cruz asked Barr for his assessment of the level of coordination among the riots and protests.
“We are seeing strong evidence of coordination in many of these violent episodes,” Barr said.
“Fundamentally, what you have here is you have demonstrators, some of them go there with the intent of demonstrating. But you have a group of provocateurs and agitators, sometimes a significant group, that try to convert those into violent activity.
“They seem to be very well coordinated when they show up,” he added.
“A number of them are associated with the movement called antifa, but they go by various names, but frequently anarchistic. They want to tear down the country. They are different than many traditional groups and frequently, the signs of coordination and activity are very close to the event itself. So like the morning of or the day before, and things are very fast-moving. But we definitely see signs out on the street of communication, of organization, of pre-planning, pre-positioning of things. So it’s definitely organized activity.”
Barr said that in light of President Donald Trump’s call for the wholesale destruction of statues and monuments to cease, the federal role in preventing destruction takes on a new importance.
“Because in some places, the local police are not doing an adequate job, we’re going to have to step up the federal effort to do that,” he said.
As an example, he noted that “all the videos involved in the attack on President Jackson’s statue, that’s carefully reviewed and we will go after people,” referring to those who tried to topple the statue of Andrew Jackson outside of the White House in Washington, D.C.
“We have to do a better job to stop these groups before they are able to do damage to these monuments and statues,” Barr said.
In discussing the current statue-toppling craze, Barr labeled the movement “anarchy; and it’s from people who are very ignorant and don’t care about history at all.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.