Congressional leaders demand probe of crackdown on peaceful protesters by feds
Democratic congressional leaders called Sunday for investigations into the use of federal agents to crack down on peaceful protesters in Portland, Ore., and elsewhere.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) demanded probes into the deployment and tactics of the agents, some of whom are wearing masks and dressed in unmarked uniforms when they arrest suspected protesters.
“The Attorney General of the United States does not have unfettered authority to direct thousands of federal law enforcement personnel to arrest and detain American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights,” the leaders wrote.
The Democratic lawmakers are calling on the inspectors general for the intelligence community and the Department of Justice to look into the crackdown.
“These tactics have little to do with public safety, but more to do with political gamesmanship,” they wrote along with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi).
Thousands of federal law enforcement personnel, including Border Patrol and other agents, have been deployed to Portland as protests against police brutality have raged for several weeks.
Some peaceful protesters say they were detained for no legitimate reason by agents who refuse to identify themselves or say what laws they supposedly broke.
Portland’s mayor and Oregon’s governor have warned the feds to stay away but they say an executive order by President Trump gives them legal justification.
Administration officials are likely to resist the probes after Trump strongly defended the crackdown on Sunday.
“We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal,” he tweeted, without offering any evidence.