Donald Trump has accused militant left-wing, anti-fascist demonstrators commonly referred to as Antifa for several violent outbursts in US cities over the weekend as thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest police brutality in the wake of the alleged police killing of George Floyd, 46, of Minneapolis.
"Congratulations to our National Guard for the great job they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night. The Antifa led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly," the president tweeted on Sunday, doubling down on his claim from the day before that "Antifa" and "the Radical Left" bear blame for protests turning violent.
He later followed up by saying the US would designate it as a terrorist organisation.
Mr Trump also took another dig at Minneapolis Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey over his handling of the protests.
Deploying the National Guard "should have been done by Mayor on first night and there would have been no trouble!" Mr Trump wrote in his tweet on Sunday.
For days now, Mr Trump and others in his administration have blamed Antifa and other left-wing elements for violent clashes with police at demonstrations across the country.
Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One to watch NASA and Elon Musk's SpaceX launch a manned rocket into outer space for the first time in roughly a decade, Mr Trump thanked his Secret Service for guarding the White House from agitators protesting at the fence of the executive residence.
"They were incredible last night at the White House. They handled that group of Antifa, or whoever they were — radical left. They handled it very well. They handled it very, very well. They handled it incredibly. And we owe a lot to Secret Service. They’re incredible men and women," the president said.
Attorney General William Barr has echoed the president's notions of who has been responsible for violent brushes with law enforcement, looting, and vandalism in recent days in cities across America, from Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.
Crossing state crimes to participate in violent rioting is a felony that is charged at the federal level.
"Unfortunately, with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements," Mr Barr said in a statement released by the Justice Department on Saturday.
"In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by far left extremist groups and anarchic groups using Antifa-like tactics," the attorney general said.
On Saturday the governor of Minnesota is mobilising the state's National Guard after claiming protests over the death of George Floyd had been hijacked by extremists, domestic terrorists and possibly even foreign forces.
"The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd," said Tim Walz, "it is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities."