In a hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said it was long past time that the Bureau conduct a federal criminal investigation into the violent, interstate organization known as Antifa. Only days after sponsoring a bill that would officially designate Antifa a domestic terrorist organization, Cruz pressed upon Wray the importance of treating the group with the seriousness called for by their actions.
“Antifa engages in the conduct of fascists,” said Cruz. “They engage in violent protests, masked men and women engaging in physical violence — we saw recently the Rose City chapter of Antifa in Portland, Oregon, that was assaulting citizens, violently assaulted one journalist so severely that he was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage.
“Likewise this weekend, a Mr. Willem Van Spronsen, another Antifa terrorist attacked a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Tacoma, Washington, igniting a vehicle and attempting to ignite a propane tank,” he continued. “I am concerned that these are not incidences but rather this is a pattern, an organization that is engaged in masked, anonymous, violent terrorism.”
He turned to Wray: “To what extent is the FBI concerned about the threat of violent activity from an organization like Antifa?”
Wray demurred, telling Cruz that the FBI would not open an investigation into Antifa because the Bureau considers the group “more of an ideology than an organization.”
Cruz wasn’t having it: “The Bureau has significant tools to go after organizations, criminal enterprises, that use anonymity, that use masks to carry out violence — groups like the Klan, groups like, at times, the Mafia.”
He said that Wray and the FBI hadn’t heard the last of this.
“I will today be sending a letter to you and the Department of Justice asking the Department to open a RICO investigation into Antifa, because I believe they are engaged in a similar coordinated effort. That letter will likewise focus on some local elected officials who have chosen to deny police protection to their citizens based on political ideology,” said Cruz. “That is a pattern sadly that we saw with politicians who favored Klan violence, and I think every citizen deserves law enforcement protection regardless of their political ideology.”
It remains to be seen if the FBI will take this growing threat seriously, or if it will take shocking violence to wake federal officials up to the danger in our midst. Let’s hope not.