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U.S. President Donald Trump has seized on destructive nationwide protests against police brutality to portray himself as an icon of law and order, eschewing the soothing role past presidents have adopted in similar moments as he seeks to turn the election-year conversation from his widely panned handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

The president on Sunday blamed the protests on Antifa, a loosely organized leftist movement that is a frequent target of conservative critics, and said he would declare the group to be terrorists. His political advisers believe the move pressures his re-election challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, to either agree with the president — splitting with the demonstrators — or side with people that some White House officials regard as rioters.

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