Speaking in the Oval Office, the president dismissed claims that officers were depriving people of their constitutional rights, and feared such deployments could herald an attempt by Trump to govern without Congress.
Oregon’s largest city has seen more than 50 nights of protests against police brutality and systemic racism, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
Clashes between law enforcement and protesters in Portland led to fires and the use of tear gas. Speaking to the Guardian and other media, protesters reported police violence and cases of people seized by unidentified officers and detained without due process.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives demanded investigations, denouncing “the use of federal law enforcement agencies by the Attorney General and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security to suppress activities protected by the First Amendment in Washington DC, Portland and other communities in the United States. ”
In June, the Trump administration used federal officers against protesters in the capital, some of whom were forcibly dispersed so Trump could hold a church photo op. National Guard troops were also used and active duty army units moved closer to the town.
In Portland, local media stressed that the protests did not paralyze the city and were limited to a small area, and that a large part of life continued as normally as possible under the pandemic of coronavirus.
Nonetheless, in the White House, Trump was asked if he was considering sending troops. It depended on the definition of the troops, he said, adding: “We send the police.”
Trump appeared to refer to such plans in a controversial Fox News interview on Sunday. Speaking of healthcare, the president said he would soon release a plan “that the Supreme Court ruling on Daca [regarding immigration enforcement and which went against the administration] gave me the right to do so ”.
It has been widely reported that the White House was influenced by John Yoo, a former government lawyer who justified the use of torture by the George W. Bush administration. Yoo argues that the Daca ruling, which upheld Barack Obama’s executive order, shows Trump how to bypass Congress.
Many fear that Trump, seeking to promote law and order in an election in which he trails Joe Biden in most polls, will attempt to use federal agents against protesters and in cities where gun violence has taken hold. increases.
On Monday, it was reported that agents were to be dispatched to cities like Chicago. In the Oval Office, the president complained about cities like Chicago and his native New York.
“The police are afraid to do anything,” he said, although Portland police have reported that some federal agents are acting “under their own supervision and direction”, many of whom were dressed in camouflage fatigues. that made them look like regular soldiers.
Trump continued: “We are not going to let New York and Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and all that, Oakland in California is a mess, we are not going to let that happen in our country. All led by liberal democrats.
“No one will have done what I’m doing in the next four weeks,” Trump told Fox News on Sunday.“We cannot let this happen in the cities. I’m going to do something I can tell you. We’re going to have more federal law enforcement… In Portland they did a fantastic job, they’ve been there for three days [and] have done a fantastic job.
Describing the actions against the protesters that observers and officials called patently unconstitutional, Trump said: “No problem. They catch them, a lot of people in jail.
“They are leaders. These people are anarchists, they are not demonstrators … They are people who hate our country and we are not going to let it go forward.
Claiming that Oregon lawmakers were “maybe even physically afraid” of the protesters, he added, “It’s worse than in Afghanistan.”
Trump has sought to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan and other real war zones.