Trump Accused of Deploying 'Secret Police' in Portland as Political Stunt

Political leaders in Oregon have accused President Donald Trump of interfering in Portland's handling of widespread protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd's death as a political stunt to rally his base ahead of the November election.

Despite repeated calls from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for federal authorities to remove their officers from the city's streets, the Trump administration has remained adamant on maintaining a law enforcement presence in Portland.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf acknowledged that local and state officials wanted federal authorities to "pack up and go home."

However, he said: "That's just not gonna happen on my watch." Instead, he said federal law enforcement, including officers and agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies, would continue to patrol the streets of Portland.

The recent incident of a protester getting shot in the head with an impact munition, as well as videos of unidentifiable federal agents in tactical gear arresting protesters on the streets and forcing them into unmarked vehicles have raised alarm, however, about federal law enforcement's tactics.

The U.S. Marshals Service is investigating the incident that saw Donavan LaBella, 26, shot in the head and left seriously injured, but local and state officials, as well as Congress members have blamed federal authorities and Trump for the incident.

"A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump's secret police," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote in a tweet.

"Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media," Wyden said.

Fellow Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley also weighed in, writing in a tweet: "Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face. These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence."

Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face. These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence. If @DHS_Wolf is coming here to inflame the situation so @realDonaldTrump can look like a tough guy, he should turn around and leave our city now.

— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) July 16, 2020

Brown also took aim at Trump, accusing him of engaging in "political theater" by sending federal law enforcement into Portland.

"This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety," Brown said. "The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government."

The goal, Brown said, appears to be to look "for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa."

Indeed, Trump's hardline response to protests could garner support among his base, with the president receiving favorable coverage on conservative media.

Still, however, the president continues to trail Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, by 8.6 percent in an average of polls maintained by by Real Clear Politics.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump walks to the White House residence after exiting Marine one on South Lawn of the White House on July 15, 2020 in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration has insisted on keeping federal law enforcement in Portland, Oregon. Drew Angerer/Getty