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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) condemned in a joint statement Saturday the Trump Administration for what they called "egregious abuses of power" against protesters in Portland, Oregon.

Why it matters: Their claims that the Trump administration has used "violent tactics" comes amid reports of Department of Homeland Security officers in unmarked vehicles detaining the protesters without explanation.

"We live in a democracy, not a banana republic. We will not tolerate the use of Americans as props in President Trump’s political games."
— Pelosi and Blumenauer's statement

What they're saying: Pelosi and Blumenauer said that as the nation mourns civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who died Friday, the Portland demonstrations were a good reminder of "the immense power of peaceful protest in the fight against racial injustice and police brutality."

  • "Yet time and time again, the Trump Administration shows its lack of respect for the dignity and First Amendment rights of all Americans," the statement continued, pointing to peaceful protesters being forcibly cleared in Washington, D.C. last month.
  • "Now, videos show them kidnapping [protesters] in unmarked cars in Portland — all with the goal of inflaming tensions for their own gain," they added. "While Portland is the President’s current target, any city could be next."
  • After the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon called for an inspector general to investigate the Department of Homeland Security officers' actions, Pelosi tweeted Friday, "Trump & his stormtroopers must be stopped."
"Unidentified stormtroopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti. These are not the actions of a democratic republic. @DHSgov’s actions in Portland undermine its mission."
— Pelosi's tweet

The big picture: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Friday night that her office opened a criminal investigation into the events that surrounded one protester's injuries. She filed another suit in Federal District Court in pursuit of a restraining order, accusing federal agents of unlawful tactics.

  • The American Civil Liberties Union added the Department of Homeland Security and the Marshals Service as defendants in its ongoing lawsuit seeking to stop the Portland police from assaulting neutrals such as journalists and legal observers documenting law enforcement's violent response to protests.

Of note: Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes associated with the demonstrations. Others have been arrested and released, according to NPR.

The other side: The Trump administration did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment, but Trump tweeted early on Sunday, "Oregon officials are running scared when it comes to Portland."

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf described Portland protesters in a statement Thursday as a "violent mob."
"Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day."

Go deeper: In photos: Federal force prompts backlash from Portland protesters

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Pelosi clashes with CNN's Wolf Blitzer over stimulus, calls him a GOP "apologist"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday engaged in a heated exchange with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, calling the host "an apologist" for President Trump and Republicans on the issue of reaching a COVID-19 relief deal.

Why it matters: House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain at a standstill on key elements of a stimulus package. The Senate has largely been left out of the negotiating process between Pelosi and the White House.

Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

4 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.