This is a kinda quick round-up of what the hell is going on with Hair Füror’s Gestapo in Portland:
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Thursday his office will launch an investigation into federal agents’ “use of force” in Portland and the clearing of peaceful protestors in Lafayette Squarein Washington, D.C., including the use of chemical agents.
Why it matters: Demonstrations in Portland against police use of force have continued in the city for more than 50 days. President Trump has threatened to send federal law enforcement into other cities run by Democrats.
The big picture: House Democrats asked the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General to investigate the response of federal law enforcement personnel to ongoing protests in cities across the U.S.
What they’re saying: “If circumstances warrant, OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of review,” Horowitz said in a letter sent Thursday to House Democratic leadership.
Axios afternoon email thingie:
It’s been a record 472 days since a Senate-confirmed secretary sat atop the Department of Homeland Security, the agency founded after 9/11 to defend the U.S. against terrorism and other threats.
Why it matters: Critics say President Trump’s refusal to put Cabinet secretaries through the Senate confirmation process has allowed him to bend agencies like DHS to his will, Zachary Basu and Stef Kight report.
- Acting agency leaders make it easier, former acting DHS general counsel John Sandweg tells Axios, for Trump “to get someone in charge who is going to bow more to his wishes without pushing back respectfully and defend the prerogatives of the institution.”
The big picture: The consequences may now be playing out on the streets of Portland, where the mayor was among those tear-gassed last night by agents dispatched to defend federal property from “rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists.”
- Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters this week that the Portland situation is “unique” because of the threat to federal courthouses.
- But Trump, who has made “law and order” rhetoric a central plank of efforts to revive his re-election bid, has linked the chaos to spikes in violence in other Democratic-run cities like Chicago — where more federal law enforcement will be “surged” this week.
Between the lines: Trump always needed DHS under his control to implement the immigration-based promises he campaigned on, Doris Meissner, who ran the Immigration and Naturalization Service before DHS was created, told Axios.
- The unions that represent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol agents have long been vocal and aligned with Trump. Even if they’re not representative of all enforcement officers, their voice matters.
- And Meissner agrees that the acting capacity automatically makes those positions more political, because leaders who want to keep their jobs have to keep Trump happy.
The other side: “Our mission changes all the time. Our priorities change all the time depending on who is in the White House,” former acting ICE director Thomas Homan told Axios.
- “I’ll tell you something else, it’s not a coincidence it’s happening in cities that, first of all, push back on ICE,” Homan added. “Every one of these cities are sanctuary cities, they have no cooperation with ICE.”
The bottom line: Some former officials argue there’s a difference between implementing a policy agenda and abusing an agency’s authority.
- DHS “was not established to be the president’s personal militia,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who served as the first Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush, said this week.
- “It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities.”
A federal judge on Wednesday gave a highly skeptical reception to the state of Oregon’s effort to push back against aggressive tactics the Trump administration is using in response to unrest focused on federal courthouses and buildings in Portland.
During a 90-minute hearing held by videoconference, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman sounded dubious about the state’s right to a temporary restraining order to combat the use of camouflage-clad agents for detaining suspects and placing them in unmarked vehicles.
Portland bans police from working with federal law enforcement, targeting journalists and legal observers during protests
Portland will immediately ban all police bureau members from cooperating with federal law enforcement or intentionally using force on or arresting journalists and legal observers, under new policies the City Council passed Wednesday.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who crafted and introduced the last-minute resolutions, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Mayor Ted Wheeler unanimously voted to approve the new rules, calling them necessary as President Donald Trump has refused to remove federal officers from the city.
…The ban on coordinating with federal officers cites “an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by the federal government” as reason to discipline any Portland police member if they provide, request or willingly receive operational support from any agency or employee representing the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshal Service, Federal Protective Service, Customs and Border Protection or any other federal service while they are occupying the city.
The other policy condemns intentional targeting of press members and legal observers who are documenting police conduct during the protests unless city officers have reasonable suspicion that they have committed a crime. A federal judge in Portland has already ordered credentialed journalists and legal observers be exempt from arrest or threat of arrest by Portland police after officers have issued an “unlawful assembly” or “riot” declaration.
The new city policy will remain in place for as long as the judge’s order remains in effect.