President Donald Trump will keep federal agents deployed in Portland until the city is “secure,” he told reporters in a Wednesday press gaggle.
Trump’s comments come one day after Attorney General Bill Barr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to defend the Trump administration’s handling of the protests and riots occurring across the country. Democratic representatives lambasted Barr for the actions of roughly 200 federal agents deployed to defend the federal courthouse in Portland, saying they used unnecessary force against “peaceful protesters.”
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 29, 2020
Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown appeared to disagree with Trump’s timeline for withdrawing agents, however, tweeting that federal officials would leave Portland on Thursday.
After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 29, 2020
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the Trump administration had reached an agreement with Brown, saying state and local officials would be taking over eventually.
“The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure,” he said in a press release. “This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began.”
Trump and Barr have pointed to footage of rioters attempting to set fire to the courthouse with kerosene balloons and fireworks, saying it is far from a peaceful protest.
Trump has also deployed agents to Chicago, Kansas City and New Mexico to quell unrest there. He has not stated how long agents will remain in those cities. (RELATED: Media Downplays Ongoing Violence In Portland, Claims ‘Right-Wing’ Outlets Are Playing Up The Unrest)
Footage from July 17 shows Chicago rioters lobbing frozen cans and water bottles and fireworks at police officers defending a Christopher Columbus statue.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at least three federal officers have been “permanently blinded” by protesters using high-powered lasers against law enforcement.
Protest journalist Andy Ngo has filmed protesters using such devices in Portland.
As Zielinski knows, antifa have tried to kill me & have shown up to my family’s home. Yet, she stated exactly where I could be found to a mob of hundreds. Immediately antifa tried to blind me w/lasers. It was painful & I still have light sensitivity now. They then confronted me. pic.twitter.com/uMPM3w8cd9
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 29, 2020
Trump did not offer any standard for determining when the city can be called “secure.”