Trump Threatens to Send Federal Law Enforcement to More (Democratic) Cities in Election Ploy

by on July 21, 2020 · 6 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights

“Trump’s feds looking like an occupying army.” From twitter feed, Monday night, July 20, 2020.

By David Smith / The Guardian / July 21, 2020

Donald Trump has vowed to send federal officers to several American cities led by Democrats in what critics say is an attempt to play the “law and order” card to boost his bid for re-election.

The president’s threat came after a federal crackdown on anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon, that involved unmarked cars and unidentified forces in camouflage.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump identified New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland as places in need of federal agents, describing those cities’ mayors as “liberal Democrats”.

“We’re sending law enforcement,” he said. “We can’t let this happen to the cities.”

Singling out Chicago, where more than 63 people were shot, 12 fatally, over the weekend, Trump pivoted to an attack on his election rival, Joe Biden. “And you add it up over the summer – this is worse than Afghanistan, by far. This is worse than anything anyone has ever seen. All run by the same liberal Democrats. And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”

Struggling against Biden in the opinion polls, Trump has leaned into a dark and divisive theme reminiscent of his fellow Republican Richard Nixon in 1968. “I am your president of law and order,” he declared in the White House Rose Garden on 1 June, shortly before park police and national guard troops fired teargas and chased peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so he could stage a photo op outside a historic church.

Since then he has repeatedly – and falsely – accused Biden of planning to “defund the police” and effectively surrender cities and suburbs to violent criminals. The conservative Fox News network, meanwhile, has been giving emphasis to coverage of inner-city violence rather the coronavirus pandemic.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said: “He took longer than I thought he would to start emphasising law and order. But I bet he starts at the convention. It’s going to be one of the key themes of the convention. ‘These crazy liberals are causing problems again.’”

Such a strategy is “certainly a candidate” for explaining the fresh crackdown in major cities, Sabato added. “I’ll tell you what it really is, though. It is an unmistakeable hint of what a second Trump term will be like. There’ll be no hesitation to do any of this.”

The Trump administration sent federal officers into Portland after weeks of protests there over police brutality and racial injustice that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Last week, videos showed unidentified federal personnel taking people off the street and driving them away in black minivans.

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, defended the actions in a tweet on Sunday: “Law and Order – a cornerstone of American society – is under siege in Portland.”

On Monday the Chicago Tribune newspaper reported that the Department of Homeland Security was making plans to deploy about 150 agents in the city where police defending a statue clashed with demonstrators on Friday.

Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago and a Democrat, told the Associated Press: “I have great concerns about that in particular, given the track record in the city of Portland. I have talked to the mayor of Portland [and] we don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the street and holding them, I think, unlawfully.”

Political leaders in Oakland, California, were quick to condemn Trump’s suggestion federal agents could deploy to their city. “Oakland needs Covid relief – not troops – from our president,” mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “He should stop slandering diverse, progressive cities like Oakland in his racist dog whistles and divisive campaign tactics.”

“Stay away from Oakland,” tweeted Democratic congresswoman Barbara Lee.

The issue has laid bare the binary choice for voters in November. Democrats, warning of a threat to civil liberties, called for Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, to quit. Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia said Wolf was “overseeing authoritarian abuses that betray our bedrock principles and would horrify our nation’s Founders”.

He added: “Ordering the occupation of US cities, seeking the escalation of violence, and intentionally risking American lives over peaceful protests and graffiti is unfathomable and unacceptable. Secretary Wolf must resign immediately or be fired.”

The House committee chairmen Jerry Nadler, Adam Smith and Bennie Thompson said in a joint statement: “The Trump administration continues to weaponize federal law enforcement for its own agenda. Like we saw in Lafayette [Square], rather than supporting and protecting the American people, we are witnessing the oppression of peaceful protesters by our own government.

“Not only do their action[s] undermine civil rights and sow fear and discord across the country, but in this case, they sully the reputation of members of our armed forces who were not involved.”

And the congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan wrote on Twitter: “They’ll have to arrest me first if they think they’re going to illegally lay their hands on my residents.”

The sinister events in Portland have renewed fears about creeping authoritarianism from Trump’s White House.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, has called for peaceful civil disobedience. “Stormtrooper tactics have no place in a free society,” he said. “The apparent deployment of the military for domestic law enforcement violates the Posse Comitatus Act in the absence of a genuine insurrection, and the claim that such deployment is genuinely necessary to preserve order does not meet the laugh test.

“The administration is violating the first amendment on a regular basis now, thereby endangering all our liberties.”

From Democracy Now:

The mayors of Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City and Washington, D.C., sent a letter Monday to Attorney General William Barr and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, writing, “Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values.”

And Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Eleanor Holmes Norton are introducing a bill this week that would require federal law enforcement officers to display their identifying information while on duty. We’ll have more on the situation in Portland after headlines.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports Trump has been consulting with former George W. Bush Justice Department attorney John Yoo about the president’s authority to bypass federal laws through executive orders. John Yoo, widely known as Bush’s “torture lawyer,” wrote the legal memo that justified waterboarding.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Danny July 21, 2020 at 5:36 pm

This is a rollout tactic in the election strategy of the White House to create chaos on Nov. 3. Imagine if the red state governors with large democratic led cities (Georgia on my mind) call for federal assistance regarding purported civil unrest at that time. Republicans will also have poll watchers that might serve to intimidate long lines of voters. Mail in ballots are already being called into question so the potential for more than several states to not certify the results may force the election into the House via the 12th Amendment.


thequeenisalizard July 22, 2020 at 8:46 am

Why is this a suprise to anyone? The Government has been doing this since the 1920’s, to keep us safe from Unions, Anarchists, Communists, Black Panthers, and students. Kent State ring any bells?


Frank Gormlie July 22, 2020 at 10:10 am

While this is true, you’ve been all over the map on this; when I complained about Trump’s impeachable offenses, you assured me we live in a republic and there wasn’t a constitutional crisis. Now you’re hammering us for complaining about Trump’s authoritarianism in present day Portland, going ‘yeh, yeh I told you so…, see they did it 100 years ago …” (hey, that rhymed!)


Danny July 22, 2020 at 1:11 pm

-Please don’t equivocate on the subject of the “Government”!
W.E.B. Du Bois identified the anti-government, anti-politician posturing as something that arose in the deep South as a reaction to Reconstruction.
The above article describes the extent to which fascist tactics are being employed by OUR government.
My contention is that this tactic is part of a strategy to bring total fascist rule through the Electoral process
So we are at a ‘Niemoeller Moment’ once again in history. Break out the old saw: Which side are you on?


Margo Sommerfeld July 26, 2020 at 12:10 am

It would be nice if you bothered to verify information as true before publishing it and claiming it as
such. First, the Federal officers in Portland were each identified by patches on their uniforms.
Each patch identified the dept. the officer was from such as ATF, DHS, etc. They were not wearing
camouflage uniforms, but tactical uniforms which offer more protection, much needed since feces, urine,
spit and a variety of other substances are thrown at them. Regarding the unmarked black vans, it is
very common for law enforcement to transport people in unmarked vans for security purposes.
As far as these peaceful protests go, I suggest you find unedited footage from a tv station that was
there and watch it. These “peaceful“ participants likely permanently blinded 3 Federal officers by
pointing lasers into their eyes.
There are peaceful protests in Portland, but those occur during daylight hours. The violence takes place from
about midnight till 4 or 5am when the thugs show up. The mayor could call for a curfew which
would help prevent the violence. Of course, that hasn’t happened because it doesn’t go along
with the Democrat mayor’s playbook.
The Federal law enforcement officers are protecting a Federal courthouse which every evening the
anarchists try to tear or burn down, even sometimes when there are people inside. It is completely
legal for the President to send Federal law enforcement into Portland to protect Federal property
especially since it is evident the local police will not do so. These Federal officers will also make
arrests when Federal law is broken.
I hope this gives you a more accurate picture of the task of these Federal law enforcement officers
in Portland. The information is very easy to find if your intention is to report a true and accurate
picture, You see, they aren’t fascists at all, just men and women with a job to do.


Danny July 27, 2020 at 10:16 am

Margot – It would be nice if you provided the sources for the information that you use to dispute the veracity of the above article,
…and it would be nice if you cited the law as it applies to your claim that the actions of the president are in fact legal not to mention fitting and proper,
…and it would be nice if you would use the correct name for the Democratic Party instead of its pejorative.
Otherwise we are led to the conclusion that the article and my supporting comments are true and furthermore that in using unverified and biased comments on the ‘Rag’ you may be seen as being part and parcel of a campaign to bring totalitarian rule to our country.
It would be nice if you weren’t!


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