“We will go in and stop the problems in Portland in 24 hours,” the president said at a news conference in New Jersey, according to OregonLive.com.
He added: “We’re supposed to be asked.”
In Portland, crowds have turned out nightly for more than two months since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – purportedly to protest of racial injustice. But Portland’s Black police chief and others have questioned that claim, saying it’s been undermined by rioting, destruction and assaults against law enforcement officers.
At his news conference, President Trump seemed to agree.
“These are really sick, disturbed people,” he said of the rioters, the Washington Times reported.
Trump also praised federal agents who were recently deployed to Portland to protect a federal courthouse, saying they had done a “fantastic job,” but he added those agents would not go beyond guarding the courthouse unless asked by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown or Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, OregonLive.com reported.
As for Wheeler, who also serves as the city’s police commissioner, Trump questioned his credibility.
“Mayor Wheeler has abdicated his duty and surrendered his city to the mob,” Trump said.
“Mayor Wheeler has abdicated his duty and surrendered his city to the mob.”
— President Trump
One night earlier, Wheeler had accused the president of deploying federal agents to city in order to create riot footage that the president could use in campaign ads. He also said that rioters who were confronting federal agents were merely playing into the president’s hands.
“If you don’t want to be a part of that, then don’t show up,” Wheeler said, addressing protesters.
On Wednesday morning, Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell condemned the rioting, claiming it was accomplishing nothing toward the goal of racial justice.
“Portlanders need to send a strong message that enough is enough,” Lovell told reporters at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, according to KGW-TV in Portland. “This is not forwarding the goals that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color. This movement is really powerful, but the violence has taken away from it. … This is not what Portland is about. This is not what we need in our city.”
Addressing reporters in New Jersey, Trump scoffed at the idea that rioters might think their actions were helping them achieve their goals.
“They look at Portland as a thing that they want,” the president said, according to OregonLive.com. “That’s what they want. Why? Who knows, doesn’t matter. It’s a different thinking but it’s a mess.”
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and Brie Stimson contributed to this story.