Chairs Maloney and Raskin Condemn Trump Administration’s Use of Federal Officers in Portland, Oregon
Washington, D.C. (July 21, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, issued the following statements about the Trump Administration’s deployment of unidentified federal officials to police Portland, Oregon, over the objections of state and local officials:
“Is this really America? Donald Trump and his sycophants have now created a national secret police force of unidentified federal officers dressed in military camouflage and given to ruthless treatment of civilian claims,” said Chairman Raskin. “This banana-republic-style secret police unit has unleashed violence against the people of Portland—mothers, veterans, students—in complete defiance of state and local officials. This chilling display of brutality emanating directly from the White House has no place in our democracy and our constitutional system. It is calculated not to restore peace but to generate endless conflict.”
“Time after time, the Trump Administration continues to trample on the First Amendment rights of American citizens who are speaking out about the racial injustices in our country,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “Just last month, the Administration tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. for a photo opportunity, and now unidentified law enforcement officials are kidnapping protesters in Portland, Oregon and threatening to target New York City next. As Chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, I have requested the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security Inspectors General immediately investigate the Trump Administration’s actions, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure this egregious abuse of power does not go unchecked.”
Maloney and Raskin demanded that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) respond to outstanding Committee and Subcommittee requests about the use of federal resources to quash protests on police brutality:
“On June 5, the Committee sought information about the use of federal law enforcement personnel to intimidate and harass peaceful protestors. To date, we have not received any meaningful answers to our oversight requests, and the Trump Administration continues to violate the rights of American citizens and their state governments unabated. We hope our Republican friends on the other side of the aisle will uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution and join us in demanding answers from Attorney General Barr and Acting Secretary Wolf.”
Timeline of Committee Oversight of Federal Response to Peaceful Protests
- In June 2020, unidentified federal officers were sent into the streets of Washington, D.C. Attorney General Barr claimed that this force included officers from “the FBI, Secret Service, Park Police, ATF, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security’s CBP and Border Patrol units, and others.”
- This massive deployment of unidentified federal officers came after President Trump threatened to “dominate the streets” of American cities as part of a militarized response to the overwhelming peaceful protests against police brutality.
- On June 1, Attorney General Barr personally ordered federal officers to forcibly disperse peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park. He later defended the aggressive use of force by claiming that the crowd was “becoming increasingly unruly.”
- On June 5, Chairs Carolyn Maloney, Raskin, and Lynch sent a letter to Attorney General Barr about the deployment of unidentified federal personnel in Washington, D.C. The Department of Justice has not provided a response.
- The same day, the Chairs sent a letter to Acting Secretary Wolf requesting information on the deployment of DHS assets at protests around the country. The Department of Homeland Security provided a cursory response that provided no meaningful documents or answers.
- Since June 5, DHS has deployed at least 2,000 officials from CPB, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Coast Guard, ostensibly to police cities around the country.
- Since at least July 14, there have been widespread reports that the federal officers in Portland have engaged in unconstitutional violations of civil rights, including kidnapping Americans without justification; failing to provide identification; and refusing to read suspects their Miranda rights, as outlined by a joint letter from three House Committee Chairs.
- Despite these abuses, on July 15, President Trump praised the Portland response. He falsely claimed that Portland “called [federal forces] in” and vowed to “straighten things out” in other cities that he equated to “warzones.”
- On July 19, Chairs Jerrold Nadler, Maloney, and Bennie Thomson requested that the Inspectors General of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice initiate a review of the Trump Administration’s deployment of DOJ and DHS officers to Portland, OR; Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
- On July 20, President Trump threatened to send additional federal law enforcement personnel to Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Oakland and Detroit.