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Acting Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told Fox News on Wednesday night that federal law enforcement officials have opened cases up against leaders of Antifa and other organizations who are believed to be behind violent riots that are plaguing the nation’s inner cities.
When asked by Fox News host Bret Baier who was behind the violent riots, Wolf answered, “I think, overall, what we have seen as far as taking place, sort of boots on the ground in these metropolitan areas, are the groups like Antifa or anarchists in general.”
“And those are the types of people that we see. That’s the intel that we’re getting back, primarily moving these violent protests and these organizations in a certain way. It usually occurs after nightfall. So, during the day, we usually see the nonviolent protests occurring,” Wolf continued. “And then, when it gets to the night, we see the more violent protests starting to happen, criminals starting to take place, organized, loosely organized during the day to achieve a specific goal.”
“I think what we’re seeing right now, it’s loosely organized within a metropolitan city. Is it being organized across the country in an organized way? I don’t think that we see that yet. But, again, we’re continuing to analyze the intelligence and really getting the feedback from the state and local law enforcement officials in these individual cities,” Wolf continued. “So, we will continue to look at – we are partnering. We have a number of investigators at the department that are working with DOJ and working with FBI. We know that they have opened up a number of cases specifically targeting some of the leaders of Antifa and other organizations that are involved.”
HHS Sec Chad Wolf says intel shows Antifa groups & anarchists are organizing to turn peaceful protests into violent riots. They're hiding homemade weapons, staging bricks & other supplies, to target law enforcement. NYPD just unveiled intel on brick staging, too. pic.twitter.com/oc25Xr7lv2
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) June 4, 2020
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BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Let’s get some insight into how the George Floyd protests and also the looting and the riots are affecting local law enforcement and the situation across the country.
Joining us tonight, Chad Wolf. He is the acting homeland security secretary.
Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for being here.
Your assessment, first of all, on the several nights we have watched this unfold?
CHAD WOLF, ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, absolutely. And thanks for having me on, Bret.
I think what we have seen over the last three, four or five days is unfortunate. Obviously, the American people are very outraged over the death of George Floyd. It’s legitimate. It’s right to be concerned and push for reform in that system.
But I think we need to do that and make sure that we don’t do that in a violent way. And what we have seen at the department is, we see a lot of these nonviolent protests. We see violent protesters taking part of that, infiltrating those nonviolent protests.
And that’s really where we have cause and concern, and specifically as it relates in targeting federal law enforcement officers, local and state law enforcement officers. And that’s something that we can’t have.
And then that’s really what we have been concerned about at the Department of Homeland Security, making sure that we support our state and local federal officials, law enforcement officers, pushing information to them, intelligence to them, and personnel and resources to them.
So, I think there’s a way that we can do this. As you indicated, some of that violence has subsided over the last several days. We hope that continues.
At the same time, if those legitimate protesters want to do so in a nonviolent way, exercise their First Amendment, they should be able to do that. The department supports that.
But, when we talk about violence, that’s where we have to draw the line, and we have to be very forceful and very clear that that’s not appropriate.
BAIER: You mentioned some of the organized nature to some of this.
BAIER: I want you to take a listen to the New York Police Department commissioner about some of the staging for that, staged by someone. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DERMOT SHEA, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Pre-staged bricks are being placed, and then transported to — quote, unquote — “peaceful protests,” which are peaceful protests, but then used by that criminal group within to sow fear.
We have had a construction site burglarized in recent days in Manhattan. And it’s interesting. A construction site burglary is not that uncommon, but, during a riot, it’s interesting what was taken. Bricks.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BAIER: So, who is behind this specifically?
And I will say, that’s also very similar to what the department has seen and what — the intel that we are seeing as well. During the day, what you see is coordination. You have seen phone calls.
You see meetings. And you see caches of weapons, homemade weapons mainly, being stashed around different metropolitan areas, so, at night, when these protests become more violent, those weapons are at hand.
I think, overall, what we have seen as far as taking place, sort of boots on the ground in these metropolitan areas, are the groups like Antifa or anarchists in general.
And those are the — those are the types of people that we see. That’s the intel that we’re getting back, primarily moving these violent protests and these organizations in a certain way. It usually occurs after nightfall. So, during the day, we usually see the nonviolent protests occurring.
And then, when it gets to the night, we see the more violent protests starting to happen, criminals starting to take place, organized, loosely organized during the day to achieve a specific goal.
BAIER: So, is there an effort to go after the leaders of this effort?
I mean, is it — can you see it across states? Is it organized in different cities across the country? And is there an effort to target who’s responsible and who’s financing it as well?
WOLF: Yes, absolutely.
I think what we’re seeing right now, it’s loosely organized within a metropolitan city. As it being — is it being organized across the country in an organized way? I don’t think that we see that yet. But, again, we’re continuing to analyze the intelligence and really getting the feedback from the state and local law enforcement officials in these individual cities.
So, we will — we will continue to look at — we are partnering. We have a number of investigators at the department that are working with DOJ and working with FBI. We know that they have opened up a number of cases specifically targeting some of the leaders of Antifa and other organizations that are involved.
So, I know they’re already going down that path. The department is a strong partner with DOJ. And, again, we have assets, we have investigators that are helping the Department of Justice in that.
BAIER: Where is the COVID situation right now? We’re seeing all of these protests. We’re seeing a lot of people gathering together.
I know your department also dealt with the situation with COVID-19. If you look at the U.S. coronavirus daily new cases, the — kind of the rolling average and the new cases graphic, you can see that it’s kind of rolling down, and a little bit of a spike.
But what about that, in context to all of this?
I think — overall, I think we’re still on a downward trend. We see a number of states and localities continuing to open up. The economy is continuing to open up. So, whether you’re in phase one or phase two or somewhere in between, I think we’re seeing progress there.
I think it’s very important that we open up that economy, and we do so in a safe and responsible way. And we have put out guidelines. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has put out guidelines on how to reopen the economy and provided those resources to state governors and other officials there.
So, we continue to look at that. I think, as we look at the civil unrest over the last several days, and we see these large groups, I think we see a lot of masks. But, obviously, we’re not doing the social distancing that we have been talking about over the last several months.
So, that’s a little concerning to a variety of us. And we will have to see if there’s any impact, long-term impact of that. But I think, overall, we’re on the right trajectory, downward trajectory. But we still have got to do a number of things across the country, continuing to mitigate, continuing to do some of that social distancing.
But we have got to do so in a responsible manner, but one that we got to get the economy back up and running. We need to open up back America. I think the president’s been very clear about that. And we will continue to do that. And we’re on the right path.
BAIER: There’s a piece by James Mattis, the first defense secretary for President Trump, in which he’s writing some pretty stark language.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people, does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. And we’re witnessing the consequence of three years of this deliberate effort.
That’s from General Jim Mattis.
Your thoughts on that tonight?
WOLF: Well, I think, if you look at the remarks that the president made, whether he made it down in Florida shortly after the launch, made it in the Rose Garden, made it a couple of different places, I think his language has been very specific regarding the tragic events in Minneapolis, what he thinks about that, but has also been very clear about law and order, the rule of law, and needing to establish that.
So, I know the media likes to focus on some harsh words and some direct words that can be delivered at times. And I think that’s needed at times.
But I encourage the American people and really everyone to look at his comments as a whole. And I think you will see that they have been balanced, and he has taken the right tone regarding the events in Minneapolis, but making sure he’s going to stand up to — for law and order.
He’s going to stand up for the law enforcement officials that are being targeted over the last several days. And I think that’s the right approach. And the president’s been very clear on that.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, we appreciate your time tonight.
WOLF: All right, thank you.