Heather had a few (?) comments about federal troops in Portland and other cities last night.
Here's a BRIEF summary:
Today Trump announced that he will send federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as part of his push to advance the idea that he is a “LAW & ORDER” president. Trump insists that “violent anarchists” allied with “radical left” Democrats have launched “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” “This bloodshed must end,” he said. “This bloodshed will end.”
To hear the president tell it, the country is at war against a leftist enemy that is destroying us from within.
But his dark vision is simply not true.
What has changed in the last few months, though, is Trump’s strategy for the 2020 election. It is notable how desperate he appears to be to win reelection. While all presidents running for a second term want to win, most of them are also willing to lose if that’s what voters decide. Trump, though, has withheld military funding from an ally to try to rig the election—that was what the Ukraine scandal was about—and, according to John Bolton, begged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to make a trade deal to help get Trump reelected. The insistence that he absolutely must win sets the stage for the federal troops in our cities.
Trump’s campaign is trying to rally voters with the idea that American cities run by Democrats are seething with violence. And to create that violence, the administration is sending in law enforcement officers that belong to departments within the executive branch of the government.
Military officers and defense officials past and present pushed back strongly against the attempt to politicize the military, and made it clear they would not permit soldiers to be used in ways they considered unconstitutional.
So Trump is turning the officers of the executive branch into the president’s private army.
On June 26, Trump issued an “Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence.” That is the document supporting the deployment of officers from what appears to be Custom and Border Protection, wearing military uniforms, in Portland, Oregon. Their original mission was to defend the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, which had sustained vandalism and thrown fireworks.
Barr is deploying federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to “surge resources” first to Kansas City, and now to Chicago and Albuquerque. The DOJ also promised to move personnel to Kansas City—and now, presumably to the other cities— “to handle an anticipated increase in prosecutions.”
All the affected cities are run by Democratic mayors.
In Portland, officials said that the protests were calming down before the new federal force moved in. They asked for the officers to be removed, but Trump refused. His acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, says: “I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job. We're going to do that, whether they like us there or not.”
(Wolf is not Senate-confirmed, and there is question about whether or not he’s even legally in his job, since he has now been 251 days in a post that can only have an “acting” director for 210. With no experience in intelligence or security, it is unlikely the former lobbyist could make it through the Senate, but Trump likes his loyalty.)
Tom Ridge, the country's first Director of Homeland Security, who served under President George W. Bush, warned that the department "was not established to be the President's personal militia." "It would be a cold day in hell before I would give consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities," he said.
What is really at stake is the delegitimizing of Democrats altogether before the 2020 election. Today Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign and one of Trump’s personal lawyers tweeted: “No Democrat should EVER AGAIN be elected in the United States in any capacity.
The Trump campaign has released an ad suggesting that the choice in 2020 is between “PUBLIC SAFETY” and “CHAOS AND VIOLENCE.” But observers quickly noted that the image of street violence in the ad was not from America, it was from Ukraine in 2014.
So to illustrate “chaos and violence,” the Trump campaign used an image of a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch’s specialized federal police wrestling a pro-democracy protester to the ground. And Donald Trump and that oligarch won power thanks to the same advisor.