The Trump administration is preparing to roll out a plan this week to send military-style federal assault squads already in Portland, Oregon, into other cities, warned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who only named locations with Democratic mayors.
Attorney General William Barr is “weighing in on that” with acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Meadows said Sunday on Fox News.
“You’ll see something rolled out this week, as we start to go in and make sure that the communities — whether it’s Chicago or Portland or Milwaukee or someplace across the heartland — we need to make sure their communities are safe,” he added.
All three cities named are run by Democrats.
President Donald Trump also indicated that federal squads would likely target cities run by the party that opposes him. He said on “Fox News Sunday” that “violence” was on the increase in “Democrat-run cities.”
“They are liberally run, they are stupidly run,” the president added.
Meadows doubled down on what he claimed was the need for a federal crackdown in the face of a wall of criticism. Federal officers in military-style fatigues with no identification began roving downtown Portland in unmarked vans last week, snatching people off the streets. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the squads Friday as “stormtroopers ... kidnapping protesters.”
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed suit in U.S. District Court on Friday, seeking an injunction to stop the uninvited squads’ “kidnap and false arrest” of citizens. It said the U.S. action violated constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure and loss of liberty.
The American Civil Liberties Union also sued DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. lawmakers have called for an investigation. The ACLU characterized the federal action in Portland as a constitutional crisis.
DHS head Wolf has railed about “violent anarchists” in Portland, yet the concerns he lists on the DHS website consist mainly of “graffiti” and damaged fences. He tweeted selfies during a recent Portland visit posing with graffiti.
As justification for the assault on Portland, federal authorities have cited a June 26 executive order by Trump directing them to protect federal monuments and buildings.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has called the federal crackdown “political theater” to provoke violence as part of a desperate reelection bid by Trump to distract from his disastrous coronavirus response. The Trump campaign retweeted a Fox News clip of Meadows with a message that the president stands against “radical mobs.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told NPR Sunday that the protest situation had been quieting — until the federal squads moved in and “blew the lid off the whole thing.” He said city and state officials tried to reason with Wolf, but were told to “stuff it.”
With the federal squads, “they won’t even identify who they are,” Wheeler said. “We don’t know why they’re here. We don’t know the circumstances under which they’re making arrests. We don’t know what their policies are or what accountability mechanisms” they follow, he added.