Trump Raises Possibility of New Federal Law Enforcement Intervention in Cities

President Donald Trump participates in a law enforcement briefing on the MS-13 gang in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Washington.

President Donald Trump participates in a law enforcement briefing on the MS-13 gang in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Washington. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The president said that an announcement on the topic could be coming next week.

President Trump on Wednesday said his administration will likely make an announcement in the days ahead concerning new federal involvement with law enforcement in cities.

“The left wing group of people that are running our cities are not doing the job that they're supposed to be doing and it's not a very tough job to do if they knew what they were doing,” the president said in remarks to reporters at the White House. “We'll be talking about that next week and probably have an announcement as to what we're planning to do to help them.”

“They're supposed to be asking for help. And they don’t want to ask. So maybe they're proud or maybe they think it's bad politically,” he added. “But we can't have happen what's happening.”

This is not the first time this summer Trump has threatened federal intervention in cities. But he hasn’t actually followed through. 

Trump said the FBI, the attorney general and others would take part in the pending announcement.

The president’s comments come as cities around the U.S. have seen protests in past weeks over police brutality and broader concerns about racial injustice in America. Trump has lashed out at times over how local officials have handled the demonstrations.

During his remarks on Wednesday, he referenced several cities where protests have occurred—Seattle, where protesters set up an “autonomous zone” that local authorities have since disbanded; Minneapolis, where a white police officer killed an unarmed Black man in May setting off the recent protests; and Portland, Oregon, a site of recent chaotic protests

In Portland, officials have said a federal agent “escalated” tensions by seriously injuring a protester outside the federal courthouse with a crowd control weapon. 

Trump also cited gun violence in Chicago as a concern.

The president has criticized efforts by activists and local officials in some places to “defund” the police, saying at one point that Democratic mayors were escalating an “anti-cop crusade.”

Polls released last month, however, showed broad popular support for the protests, which have occurred in both small towns and larger cities across the country.  

Trump on Monday said that his administration would push crime numbers in cities down, “even if we have to go in and take over cities.” Asked on Wednesday if next week’s announcement would have to do with that, the president said only that more details would be forthcoming. "But it's something that I think at this point the American people want to see,” he added.

Since early in his term, Trump and his administration have periodically sparred with city officials. Some of these flare-ups have been over immigration enforcement and so-called “sanctuary city” policies. At other times, Trump has assailed various cities as poorly managed and crime ridden.

This latest round of combative rhetoric towards metropolitan areas comes as polls have shown the president trailing in his reelection bid against Democratic candidate Joe Biden with election day less than four months away. The nation is also reeling from the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed upwards of 130,000 lives and shattered the nation’s economic health on Trump’s watch.

Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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