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President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department will "immediately surge" federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and Albuquerque in an effort to combat violent crime.

The big picture: The deployment is an expansion of Operation Legend, which the Justice Department launched on July 8 in Kansas City, Mo., as a coordinated initiative "across all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight the sudden surge of violent crime."

  • The operation has seen hundreds of federal agents sent to Kansas City to help quell violence that erupted after the shooting death of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, for whom Operation Legend is named.
  • Chicago has also seen a surge in violence, including a mass shooting on Tuesday night that left 14 injured.

Details: The administration will send about 200 officers to Chicago and 35 to Albuquerque from the FBI, ATF, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshals service and the Department of Homeland Security, which has been stationed in Portland as Black Lives Matter protests have continued for over 50 days.

Between the lines: Operation Legend is distinct from the Department of Homeland Security's presence in Portland, which was established under an executive order seeking to protect monuments and federal property from protesters.

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she had received assurances that the federal agents would be focused on dealing with gun violence, not targeting protesters. "We welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship," Lightfoot said. "We do not welcome authoritarianism."
  • Reports of unidentified federal agents snatching protesters into unmarked vans in Portland have sparked intense backlash against the Trump administration.

The bottom line: President Trump has staked his re-election hopes on a law-and-order message by promising to send law enforcement to more Democratic-led cities, which now find themselves in the topsy-turvy position of having to resist federal government action, Axios' Shane Savitsky notes.

  • "If Biden got in, that would be true for the country," Trump told reporters Monday after saying more agents would be deployed. "The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell."

Go deeper: Liberal cities resist as Trump stakes his re-election hopes on "law and order"

Go deeper

20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to the rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision making," the letter says.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.