America has been scarred in recent weeks by violent rioting that has overshadowed the peaceful protests that came in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. But during a recent podcast interview with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and conservative pundit Michael Knowles, Attorney General Bill Barr promised that consequences — and indictments — are on the way.
“When the real violence started around May 25, 26, and so forth, we started using our joint terrorist task forces around the country. And there are 35 of them around the country,” Barr said on Thursday’s episode of Verdict, according to the Washington Examiner.
The AG went on: “And now they are starting to go full bore, cranking out investigations, indictments against the people who are involved in this violence.”
Hundreds of investigations
According to Barr, the Justice Department has “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,” he said, as the Examiner reported.
Barr has made clear in past interviews that he draws a distinction between peaceful demonstrators protesting police brutality and what he described as “extremist agitators” who “have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.”
“They want to tear down the country,” Barr said of these groups on Thursday’s podcast, according to the Examiner. “They are different than many traditional groups, and frequently, the signs of coordination and activity are very close to the event itself.”
The AG explained: “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 preplanning, prepositioning of things. So it’s definitely organized activity.”
“Long-term jail sentences”
For his part, President Donald Trump has been vocal in his disapproval of violent rioters, particularly those who have taken to toppling statues of historical leaders across the United States. “I don’t like it at all,” he told Fox News this week, according to a transcript from RealClearPolitics. “I don’t like anything that’s going on.”
The president even went so far as announcing a new executive order that, according to USA Today, would “protect statues and other historical monuments from destruction.”
“We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday, as USA Today reported. “They’re bad people, they don’t love our country, and they’re not taking down our monuments, I just want to make that clear.”
As the Examiner noted, the president said in a tweet later that day that offenders could see prison sentences of up to 10 years.
…..This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020