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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.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.