US President Donald Trump privately blamed “Antifa people” for storming the US Capitol last Wednesday, even though clear video and documentary evidence shows the rioters were overwhelmingly his supporters, Axios website reported.
Antifa, short for anti-fascist, is an amorphous movement. Members of the group have clashed with far-right groups in the past few years. Trump threatened to label the group as a “terrorist” organisation following protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, and other acts of police brutality.
Trump made the remark in a 30-minute-plus phone call on Monday morning with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Axios reported, citing a White House official and another source familiar with the call.
However, McCarthy told Trump in the call, which according to Axios was tense and aggressive at times, “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA [supporters of Trump]. I know. I was there.”
McCarthy also advised Trump to call Joe Biden, meet with the president-elect and leave a welcome letter in the Resolute desk for his successor, according to the report.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative of McCarthy was not immediately available for comment.
The storming of the Capitol building last week by Trump supporters delayed the certification of Biden’s election victory.
Trump, who has without evidence challenged the validity of Biden’s election win, initially praised his supporters but later condemned the violence.
Politicians were forced to flee as the building was mobbed by the president’s supporters, who overwhelmed security forces.
Five people died in the violence, including one Capitol Police officer who was beaten as he tried to ward off the crowds.
Antifa has been a favoured target of American conservatives, including Trump, for their opposition to far-right backers of the US president.
Anti-fascists of the movement tend to be grouped on the left fringes of the US political spectrum, many describing themselves as socialists, anarchists, communists or anti-capitalists.