Fox News’ Juan Williams defended Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, saying Friday that the real problem was federal law enforcement on the ground in his city amid protests.
Williams addressed the issue on “The Five,” arguing that federal law enforcement officers had been sent to Portland “for no reason,” and Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy was quick to push back with harsh criticism for Mayor Wheeler. (RELATED: ‘Too Direct For My Tastes’: Juan Williams Stops Short Of Defending Biden’s Comments On Black Voters)
Guest host and former Republican South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy posed the question to Williams, asking about Wheeler’s recent criticisms of violent protesters and why there had been no real outrage up to this point.
“People are saying Ted Wheeler was negligent or something but I think he was very clear in saying that what those people were doing was violent and it was potentially murderous,” Williams replied. “He used the word murder, that it was wrong. So I think that’s a pretty clear line. I think people disagree about well, he should have been tougher earlier and the like but I don’t think there’s much disagreement from the left or the right when it comes to people who would set a fire and trap people in a building.”
Williams went on to say that he agreed with Wheeler’s assessment that President Donald Trump was using the unrest to promote his own campaign, adding, “Trump wants to undermine the power of the peaceful protests in his country. The way to do it is to point at people who are misbehaving and engaged in illegal activity. So I think he’s right on both counts, and I don’t think there is a left-right divide over condemnation of violent people.”
Gowdy argued that Wheeler appeared to remain silent while rioters committed arson and assaulted both police officers and civilians. “Where was the criticism 30 days ago, 45 days ago? I mean everybody is against murder, for the most part. How about the other stuff leading up to it?”
Williams went on to say that he thought Wheeler remained popular in his own city — prompting Kennedy to laugh out loud — adding, “His citizens saw him as containing this rather than pouring accelerant on it which is what we saw when you have federal agents from Customs out of play showing up for no reason, exacerbating a difficult situation for local officials.”
“No reason,” cohost Greg Gutfeld scoffed, shaking his head.
Kennedy weighed in next, saying that the protests and violence had undercut any message that the initial protesters had wanted to get across. “I call Ted Wheeler ‘The Nutless Wonder.’ I am from Portland, it’s a beautiful city. It’s disgusting what’s happening, because Ted Wheeler’s walking around going, ‘This is bad, someone should do something.’ Ted, you are the someone. You’re supposed to be leading your city. You’re supposed to be ensuring there is safety so people can protest,” she said.
Kennedy’s final conclusion was that Wheeler must secretly be a Trump operative. “He has laid back so long and let his city burn because he knows it’s a gift to the Trump campaign. That’s the only way to explain it.”