As top federal law enforcement officials arrived in Oregon on Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown accused President Donald Trump of deploying federal officers to Portland to crack down on protesters as a way to boost his flailing reelection prospects.
In an uncharacteristically harsh statement, Brown responded to Trump's deployment of federal officers to quell Portland's protests against police violence. Those officers sent one demonstrator to the hospital July 11 with a munition to the face.
"This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety," Brown said. "The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government."
Her comments come in the same hour that acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf landed in Portland, according to KOIN News 6. This morning, Wolf refused a request from Mayor Ted Wheeler to withdraw his officers from Portland.
"The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city," Wolf said. "This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them."
Brown said she spoke to Wolf and told him to remove officers from Portland streets.
"I told acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets," Brown said. "His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm's way. This, coming from the same president who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., to engineer a photo opportunity."
Brown accused the president of provoking violence in order to appear tough on crime to suburban voters. "Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa," she said.
That appears to be a correct assessment: The federal crackdown on Portland is getting approving airplay on Fox News and other conservative media, and Trump has pledged to increase federal action if liberal cities don't make arrests of protesters who damage property. Meanwhile, Trump trails Joe Biden by 10 percentage points in reelection polls.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was equally scathing today.
"A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump's secret police," Wyden wrote on Twitter. "Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media."
Oregon's junior U.S. senator, Jeff Merkley, decried the officers' deployment in a town hall this afternoon, then sent a statement to WW.
"Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face," Merkley said. "These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence. If Sec. Wolf is coming here to inflame the situation so the president can look like a tough guy, he should turn around and leave our city now."