In a press conference with several federal law enforcement agencies in Washington on Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr again urged state governors to rely on the national guard in quelling riots that may develop from anti-police brutality protests.
Barr also said the federal government "has evidence" that Antifa and other "extremists and agitators" have escalated peaceful protests into riots, but did not share that evidence with reporters.
When later asked by reporters, Barr acknowledged that there were "a lot of extremist organizations" that the federal government that are inciting violence at peaceful protests. Among those are the Boogaloos — a right-wing group that saw three of its members arrested after allegedly inciting violence in Las Vegas.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agency is "not about ideology," but will bring to justice anyone inciting violence.
Barr's comments came days after President Donald Trump tweeted that the federal government planned to designate Antifa as a "terrorist organization." Experts say that doing so would be difficult, noting Antifa's lack of a central structure and laws preventing the government from clarifying domestics groups as terror organizations.
Antifa, short for anti-fascists, is a loose group of left-wing activists that favor bringing about change through direct action as opposed to politics. The group has been criticized for inciting violence against police and other law enforcement officials.
Barr was also asked about President Donald Trump's Monday photo op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, which required hundreds of largely peaceful protesters to be forcefully dispersed. Barr told reporters that he was not aware of Trump's plan to hold a photo op at the time he had ordered federal law enforcement to expand a perimeter around the White House.
During Thursday's press conference, Barr also addressed the need for change in policing across the country. Barr said he would be meeting with the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement later this month.
"Many African-Americans lack confidence in the criminal justice system," Barr said. He added that "the DOJ will do its part" to enact change in policing.