Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
Trump's legal adviser: President is targeting violent terrorists, not peaceful protesters
2 June 2020, 11:47
President Trump encouraged governors across the US to take a harder line against violent protesters, branding this faction of demonstrators as "domestic terrorists."
Tom Swarbrick was on air as scenes in America took a turn, following President Donald Trump's announcement that state administrators must "dominate the streets" to quell violent criminality by factions of protesters the US President branded as antifa.
Jenna Ellis is Donald Trump's senior legal adviser and is working on his 2020 reelection campaign. She joined Tom after President Trump made the announcements. He began by asking Ms Ellis "what does the President mean by dominate?"
The legal expert told listeners that the President's announcement was "to keep all American states from these domestic terrorists" in reference to the antifa faction of demonstrators that have been found to be vandalising and looting amid legitimate protests.
She was quick to assure Tom that the President was not clamping down on the freedom of speech of Black Lives Matter protesters but protesting them from "a coordinated terrorist attack trying to destroy US cities." "When he's talking about dominating, he's talking about restoring law and order" she said.
Tom wondered if the President's announcement is blurring the lines between legitimate protesters and violent ones, citing footage surfaced throughout the demonstrations of police brutality towards the press and innocent bystanders. Ms Ellis insisted that "he's not calling to dominate the protesters" and President Trump in fact "supports the constitutional right to peacefully protest."
The legal advisor added that the President is "not talking about the peaceful protester he's talking about the antifa terrorists and the criminal activity" when calling for law enforcement to dominate the streets.
Tom was curious to find out "what basis are antifa defined as a terrorist group" by the White House. Ms Ellis told him that federal statutes define terrorists as groups who "perpetuate acts of violence on peaceful civilians" and it has become evident through these demonstrations that there are factions that are "doing this all in the name of violence."
She backed up the President's decision, telling listeners that "the President is absolutely right under our US federal statute to designate antifa as a domestic terrorist organisation." Tom argued should "the same definition not be applicable to the white nationalists who committed violent offences and death in Charleston Virginia and other parts of the United States."
Ms Ellis agreed with the suggestion, adding that the work that organisations such as the Secret Service and the FBI during these protests against antifa will show the effectiveness of US law enforcement. "To have the federal resources to be able to flush that out and to make those arrests and to have that under legitimate law enforcement is absolutely appropriate."
Tom brought the argument further to ask how far US law enforcement would go to stop the activity of domestic terrorists. He asked the legal expert "is it beyond question to think a drone strike on US soil by the US government could occur in order to stop antifa from committing further acts."
Ms Ellis said that she "would leave that to law enforcement" and placed her trust in the reason and composure of the enforcement services to protect American citizens.
"I'm very appreciative as a citizen of the United States to have such strong leadership from President Trump" she concluded.