Biden pick for AG claims Antifa, BLM attacks in Portland not ‘domestic terrorism’ because they were at night


WASHINGTON, DC – President Biden’s pick for Attorney General told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, unlike the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Antifa and other left-wing attacks against federal buildings were not domestic terrorism because those attacks occurred after business hours.

Judge Merrick Garland was being questioned by Republican Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) during Garland’s confirmation hearing Monday.

Garland said the attacks on federal buildings in places like Portland and Seattle were not “domestic terrorism” because they occurred during hours when business was not in session.


Garland said that unlike the attacks on courthouses by left-wing rioters, the attack on the United States Capitol occurred during business hours and was domestic terrorism.

Sen. Hawley had asked Judge Garland:

“Let me ask you about assaults on federal property in places other than Washington, DC — Portland, for instance, Seattle. Do you regard assaults on federal courthouses or other federal property as acts of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism?”

Garland responded that the difference between the Capitol attack and Antifa and other left-wing attacks was time:

“Senator, my own definition, which is about the same as the statutory definition, is the use of violence or threats of violence in an attempt to disrupt the democratic processes.

So an attack on a courthouse, while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism.

“An attack simply on a government property at night, or any other kind of circumstances, is a clear crime and a serious one, and should be punished.

I don’t know enough about the facts of the example you’re talking about. But that’s where I draw the line. One is — both are criminal, but one is a core attack on our democratic institutions.”

One of the attacks referenced by Sen. Hawley was the July 4 siege at the Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon.

The Hatfield Federal Courthouse was attacked around 4 a.m. when Antifa and other left-wing protesters began throwing rocks at the federal building.

The crowd then began firing commercial-grade fireworks at the building.

At the time, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was pleading with the thousands of rioters who had rampaged the city for days to stop.

Wheeler mentioned that there were inmates and employees inside the building endangered by the rioters, despite the attack occurring before normal business hours.

Wheeler said:

“Groups continue to target the Justice Center, threatening the safety of hundreds of inmates and employees inside.

They continue to hurt small businesses owned by people of color, instill fear in communities of color, and start fires in buildings with people inside, in one specific case, even bolting emergency doors so that they could not escape.

“These attacks undermine public safety in our community, and they harm the very people and businesses we need to be lifting up.

(We are asking) for the public’s support in calling for an end to the nightly violence. Join us in our call for peace. Lives are at stake.”

During rioting throughout the city over the summer, over 200 officers were injured as Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters attacked local and federal police with explosives, lasers, projectiles, and other dangerous weapons and objects.

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In August, then-Attorney General William Barr described the courthouse attack:

“Behind the veil of ‘protests,’ highly organized violent operators have carried out direct attacks on federal personnel and property, particularly the federal courthouse in Portland.

Shielded by the crowds, which make it difficult for law enforcement to detect or reach them, violent opportunists in Portland have attacked the courthouse and federal officers with explosives, lasers, projectiles, and other dangerous devices.

“In some cases, purported ‘journalists’ or ‘legal observers’ have provided cover for the violent offenders; in others, individuals wearing supposed press badges have themselves attacked law enforcement or trespassed on federal property.

More than 200 federal officers have been injured in Portland alone.

Despite the dangers posed to employees and others inside the federal buildings and other police officers injured by attacks from the left-wing rioters, including Black Lives Matter and Antifa; Judge Garland claimed his belief was in line with how federal law defines “domestic terrorism.”

Federal Code Title 18 section 2331 states:

“The term ‘domestic terrorism’ means activities that —

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended — (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

Contrary to Judge Garland’s position, there is no element or requirement in the statute requiring an attack to occur during business hours to be defined as “domestic terrorism.”

Following questioning by Sen. Hawley, the topic of Portland was returned to by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who asked the judge to clarify his comments:

“Do you promise to defend the Portland courthouse against anarchists?”


Although not considering such an attack as “domestic terrorism,” Judge Garland said he would prosecute anyone who attacked federal property:

“Anyone who attacked a federal building or caused damage to a federal building violates federal statutes, those who do it will be prosecuted.”

Garland is a federal appeals court judge who was nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court by former President Obama in 2016.

The nomination was blocked by Republicans.

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