Acting CBP commissioner blasts ‘stupid statement’ by Portland mayor on federal troops: ‘Not based in reality’

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Acting CBP commissioner blasts ‘stupid statement’ by Portland mayor on federal troops: ‘Not based in reality’

Acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan blasted the mayor of Portland’s “ridiculous” and “stupid statement” that federal agents are “sharply escalating the situation” in the city, calling it “not based in reality or fact.”

“The reality here is this violence began in his city well before we deployed additional resources there,” Morgan told “America’s Newsroom” on Monday, the morning after the 53rd consecutive night of protests in Oregon’s largest city.

Over the weekend, rioters broke into the Portland Police Association building and set it on fire, as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd intensified for another night, according to Portland Police.

President Trump has denounced the violent demonstrations in Portland and the Trump administration has enlisted federal agents, including the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection team based on the U.S.-Mexico border, to protect federal property.

On Monday, Morgan noted that the CBP team is “not only trained, but highly experienced in exactly these kinds of situations.”

The unrest had frustrated Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, and other local officials who had said a small group of violent activists was drowning out the message of peaceful protesters. Wheeler also said the presence of federal law enforcement in Portland was exacerbating the situation.

“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city.” Wheeler said Friday. “The words and actions from President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security have shown that this is an attack on our democracy.”

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Wheeler doubled down on his statements.

“The president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect,” Wheeler said. “What’s happening here is we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city and what they’re doing is they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.”

“We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave,” he added, calling the intervention, which he said is “a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government” and the Trump administration, “a direct threat to our democracy.”

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Wheeler went on to say, “We’re all telling the Trump administration to stop the rhetoric, take these people out of our city, they are not helping us, they are hurting us.”

“These individuals we’re talking about are not protesters, they’re criminals,” Morgan said on Monday reacting to Wheeler’s comments.

“Every night, they’re willfully coordinating, organizing, and planning to intentionally attack and destroy federal property and harm federal agents and officers. Those are criminals.”

“That’s why we’re there and we’re not going anywhere,” he added.

Morgan went on to say that “what we need is we need local leaders to stop saying ridiculous, irresponsible things, reach out to these protesters and get the police to work with us to go out and stop and arrest these criminals.”

“That’s what has to be done, but they refuse to do it,” Morgan continued.

Early Monday, protesters outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse set a fire in the building’s entryway in yet another night of conflict with federal agents who repeatedly tear-gassed the demonstrators to drive them away, according to officials.

In a tweet on Sunday, Trump wrote: “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it.”

“Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators,” he continued. “They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”

“The president is right,” Morgan said on Monday.

“We actually have a statutory responsibility, the federal protective service has a statutory responsibility to protect federal buildings and they also have the statutory authority to do that,” he said. “That’s why we’re there.” 

He added, “We actually had credible information that the federal buildings were going to be attacked, that’s what led us to putting more resources there and guess what? That’s exactly what happened.”

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“Just the past couple of days, we’ve had both police stations and federal buildings boarded up with commercial-grade fireworks launched at these buildings to set them on fire with people inside,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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