Jul 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Rand Paul denounces use of federal force in Portland

Rand Paul speaks in front of a microphone
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday denounced the Trump administration's use of federal agents against protesters in Portland, Oregon, saying, "We cannot give up liberty for security."

Why it matters: Paul's statement is the first pushback against the administration on the issue from a Republican lawmaker.

What he's saying: "We cannot give up liberty for security. Local law enforcement can and should be handling these situations in our cities but there is no place for federal troops or unidentified federal agents rounding people up at will," Paul tweeted, including a link to an article from conservative news site Hot Air that criticized "federal agents kitted out in military or paramilitary trappings."

The big picture: Top House Democrats called for a probe into the situation over the weekend, saying federal agencies "appear to have increasingly abused emergency authorities to justify the use of force against Americans exercising their right to peaceful assembly."

  • Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told NPR that Trump ordering DHS' involvement "is an effort — a last-gasp effort by a failed president with sagging polling data who's trying to look strong for his base."

The other side: President Trump and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf have defended the use of federal law enforcement, claiming that violent anarchists have overtaken the city and defaced federal property.

  • Trump continued that line while speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, claiming the city was "totally out of control." He added, "In Portland, they've done a fantastic job. They've been there three days, and they really have done a fantastic job in very short period of time. No problem."
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