The Trump administration has started talks with the Oregon governor’s office and indicated that it would begin to draw down the presence of federal agents sent to quell two months of chaotic protests in Portland if the state stepped up its own enforcement, a senior White House official said Tuesday.
The official stressed to The Associated Press that the talks with the office of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown are in the early stages and there is no agreement. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Brown didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office also didn’t immediately respond to an email.
Just a day earlier, the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security were weighing whether to send in more agents. The marshals were taking steps to identify up to 100 additional personnel who could go in case they were needed to relieve or supplement the deputy marshals who work in Oregon, spokesman Drew Wade said.
Homeland Security was considering a similar measure with Customs and Border Protection agents, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
President Donald Trump did not let up on criticizing local authorities in their handling of the protests that began after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police and have grown to include the presence of federal agents in Portland and other Democratic cities.
The nightly protests often spiral into violence as demonstrators target the U.S. courthouse in Oregon’s largest city with rocks, fireworks and laser pointers and federal agents respond with tear gas, less-lethal ammunition and arrests.
“We, as you know, have done an excellent job of watching over Portland and watching our courthouse where they wanted to burn it down, they’re anarchists, nothing short of anarchist agitators,” Trump said Tuesday. “And we have protected it very powerfully. And if we didn’t go there, I will tell you, you wouldn’t have a courthouse. You’d have a billion-dollar burned-out building.”
Trump wants to send in more contractors and spur a violent event that will become the catalyst for a crackdown. What Brown and Wheeler are trying to do is to give Trump a political win he can brag about, so he can go on TV and say he "saved Portland". Trump fancies himself to be a dealmaker, not because he's good at making deals (he's horrific at it) but because his malignant narcissism requires that he believes everyone else operates within the same transactional social framework as he does.
What Trump wants is for people to say good things about him on TV, about how smart he is and how good of a negotiator he is, and how only he could resolve the protests in Portland. That's his ticket to a second term, he thinks.
He's wrong, and Brown and Wheeler are trying to manipulate him the way you would deal with any tantrum-prone 4-year-old. Someone's going to point that out to him and this ploy is probably going to fail miserably and end in bloodshed anyway, because Trump is also easily manipulated by his cadre of revenants, ghouls, and vampires and they've had a lot more practice at it.
But you have to give Brown and Wheeler credit here. They are honestly trying to save lives by placating a buffoon in love with the smell of his own flatulence.