President Donald Trump plans to dispatch federal law enforcement agents to American cities to stop “unrest” this week.
According to Mother Jones, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News of Trump’s plan Sunday.
“Attorney General Barr is weighing in on that with [acting Homeland Security] Secretary [Chad] Wolf, and 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 of the country—we need to make sure their communities are safe,” Meadows said.
Meadows went on to discuss the federal presence in Portland, Oregon. The Department of Homeland Security and the US Marshall’s Service are defying multiple requests by local officials and are policing Black Lives Matter protests to make arrests. Also, Border Patrol teams have detained people, and federal agents have reportedly used tear gas against protesters.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has told Homeland Security and Trump he wants federal agencies out of his city, but his calls were ignored.
“The only response has been from the interim secretary of Homeland Security,” Wheeler told NPR. “He’s basically told us to stuff it. The problem we’re experiencing here is we have an already heightened situation. It’s already tense.”
Federal agencies have countered saying a Trump June 26 executive order directed them to protect statues, monuments, and the Hatfield Federal Courthouse. The Border Patrol said its agents have been deputized to help the Federal Protective Service guard federal facilities, a role that the DHS secretary has statutory power to give them.
Meadows also suggested the Trump administration wants to broaden its legal justification to allow federal agencies to expand their presence in other locations, including Chicago, which currently has a gun violence problem.
“The statues are one thing, but it’s really about keeping our communities safe, and the president is committed to do that,” Meadows said.
The plans are sure to draw rebukes and maybe even legal challenges from Democrats and progressive groups.
On Sunday, the chairs of three House committees—Judiciary, Oversight, and Homeland Security—asked Justice Department and Homeland Security inspector generals to investigate the “use of federal law enforcement agencies by the Attorney General and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security to suppress First Amendment-protected activities in Washington, DC, Portland, and other communities across the United States.”