Acting Homeland Secretary Security Chad Wolf speaks about federal agents in Portland during a press conference in Washington, D.C. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf pushed back on Tuesday against criticism of federal agents' conduct during massive protests in Portland, Oregon, following calls for an investigation into their conduct.

What he's saying: Wolf said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., that what's occurring in the city "is not peaceful protesting." "We have been forced because of local law enforcement presence to take measures such as arrests to protect our officials," he added.

"We will not retreat. We will continue to take the appropriate action to protect our facilities and our law enforcement officers."
— Wolf

Driving the news: Reports that federal law enforcement officers in unmarked vehicles detained Portland protesters without explanation has attracted widespread criticism from leading Democrats, who've demanded a probe. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday added his voice to those denouncing the use of federal agents against protesters.

  • The U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon has called for an inspector general investigation into the reports.
  • But Wolf dismissed the criticism, saying: "The smear attacks leveled against our officers is disgusting."

What to watch: The Oregon's attorney general's office has opened a criminal investigation into an incident resulting in the injury of a protester.

  • The state attorney general filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court seeking a restraining order, accusing federal agents of unlawful tactics.

The big picture: Black Lives Matter protests swelled in Portland this week despite the presence of federal law enforcement officers. Demonstrations against police violence have continued in the city for more than 50 days, Axios' Orion Rummler notes.

Go deeper: In photos: Unrest at Portland protests amid federal force presence

Go deeper

Updated Jul 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Protests intensify across U.S.: Portland and Seattle police declare riot

Police officers deploy pepper spray as they clash with protesters in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Tension flared across the U.S. overnight as thousands of protesters rallied against racial injustice, with authorities first in Seattle, Washington, and then in Portland, Oregon, declaring a riot.

Driving the news: Standoffs between federal agents and Portland protesters in recent days triggered huge turnouts, and later clashes with authorities, on Saturday in several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, per the New York Times. Unrest in Portland continued well into Sunday morning.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 18,288,573 — Total deaths: 693,805 — Total recoveries — 10,916,907Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 4,713,562 — Total deaths: 155,469 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Education — Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots should remain closed
  4. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  5. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  6. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.
Updated 3 hours ago - Science

Hurricane Isaias lashes the Carolinas

People walk through floodwaters on Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Monday. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Hurricane Isaias made landfall as a Category 1 storm near Ocean Isle Beach in southern North Carolina at 11:10 p.m. ET Monday, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, per the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

What's happening: Hurricane conditions were spreading onto the coast of eastern South Carolina and southeastern N.C., the NHC said in an 11 p.m. update. Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith told WECT News the eye of the storm triggered "a series of fires at homes" and "a lot of flooding." Fire authorities said they were responding to "multiple structure fires in the area."