House Judiciary Republicans Call on Nadler to Denounce ‘Left-Wing Violent Extremism’

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
September 8, 2020Updated: September 8, 2020

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday have urged the committee’s chairman, Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to condemn left-wing extremism and violence perpetrated by the anarcho-communist group Antifa amid the recent civil unrest across the nation.

The Republican lawmakers sent their demand to the New York Democrat in a letter, where they also called him to hold a hearing to investigate the civil unrest caused by extreme groups in Democrat-run cities.

The letter was led by committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and also signed by Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

“Violent left-wing extremists are destroying Democrat-run American cities. As parts of these cities literally burn, prominent Democrat leaders look the other way on lawlessness and disorder,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter (pdf).

This comes as ongoing civil unrest, protests, and riots take hold in multiple cities across the nation. The protests were prompted by concern over the police excessive use of force against suspects during law enforcement encounters and arrests, and the ongoing tension between the black American community and law enforcement.

While many of the protests are peaceful, federal officials say violent agitators have hijacked some of these demonstrations to carry out their agendas and have engaged in violence, looting, and rioting, which have led to widespread property destruction, injuries, and deaths.

Some cities such as Portland, Oregon, have seen persistent rioting and civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death. In Portland, which has seen continuous violence and rioting for months, federal law enforcement agents have been deployed to address the violence and protect federal property. Meanwhile, at least 300 individuals have been federally arrested and at least 302 have been charged federally linked to rioting and violence in these cities.

In their letter, the Republican lawmakers accused Democrats failing to prevent the violence and destruction, while adding that the Democrats’ push to “defund the police,” by reallocating funds from police departments to other social programs, has contributed to civil unrest.

The lawmakers also criticized Nadler for his public comments where he characterized the Antifa rioting and violence in some cities such as Portland as a “myth” and referring to the extremist group as “imaginary” during a House speech.

“The Democrats’ acceptance and tacit encouragement of violence has real consequences. It is beyond time that you forcefully denounce left-wing violent extremism and convene a Committee hearing to examine the civic unrest plaguing Democrat-run cities,” the Republican lawmakers said.

The lawmakers also said that recent polling—which shows that Americans disapprove of violence in U.S. cities—had forced Democrats to only now pivot to “take a tougher stance on the violence and looting,” while engaging in “blame-shifting tactics” to pin the blame of the violence on President Donald Trump.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for the first time on Monday explicitly condemned Antifa, adding that he condemns “violence no matter who it is.”

Attorney General William Barr had repeatedly linked the violence and rioting observed across the country to extremist organizations such as Antifa. He said the Justice Department has been investigating the links between individuals participating in riots and the extremist group.

In a recent interview, Barr said members of the extremist group has been flying around the country and participating in riots.

“I’ve talked to every police chief in every city where there has been major violence and they all have identified Antifa as the ramrod for the violence,” Barr said in an appearance this week on CNN’s “Situation Room.” “They are flying around the country. We know people who are flying around the country. We know where they’re going.”

“We see some of the purchases they are making before the riots of weapons to use in those riots,” he added. “So, we are following them.”

In another interview last month, Barr characterized Antifa as a revolutionary group that aims to establish socialism or communism in the United States.

Nadler’s press office did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.