McEnany: Federal government has a duty to uphold the law in Portland

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany stands as a video from Portland, Ore., is shown during a press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Friday, July 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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UPDATED 10:00 AM PT — Saturday, July 25, 2020

On Friday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the recent deployment of federal agents to Portland. Her support of the effort, which was undertaken by the Trump administration in a bid to quell a recent outbreak of riots, came during a press briefing at the White House.

She detailed the violent conditions endured by officers on the ground, who have been engaged in the protection of federal property during the now more than 50 nights of consecutive protests in the city.

“Our brave officers have faced all of these various things, like rioters barricading the Hatfield Courthouse, trapping officers inside. A ‘commercial grade mortar firework’ was launched by rioters. A federal agent’s hand was impaled by planted nails. Another federal agent was shot with a pellet gun, leaving a wound deep to the bone. Tragically, three federal officers were likely left permanently blinded by the rioters, (who were) using lasers pointed directly at their eyes.” – Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary

Her description referred to protesters’ attempt to set the courthouse ablaze earlier this week. Monday night also saw demonstrators’ first use of communication jamming devices against law enforcement.

That same night, rioters also attempted to cut off the building’s water supply to “make it a nightmare for officers inside.”

Clouds of smoke fill the air as federal officers try to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The decision to deploy DHS officers to Portland has been rejected by Democrat politicians, who have gone so far as to suggest the order was unlawful.

The press secretary has soundly rejected this claim.

“There’s Operation Legend, which is primarily led by DOJ, that’s just providing FBI, ATF and DEA agents to already existing places…that are out of control, like Chicago for instance,” stated McEnany. “(It’s) separate and distinct from Portland, which is DHS.”

Legal precedent is likely on the administration’s side, as pointed out by the press secretary. U.S. Code Title 40, Section 1315 explicitly grants the Department of Homeland Security the ability to designate officers under its jurisdiction for the duty of protecting federal buildings.

According to federal law, DHS agents are allowed to make arrests related to crimes committed in the officers’ presence within an area of up to 100 miles from the nearest external border, which, in this case, includes the city of Portland.

FILE – In this July 20, 2020 file photo Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Noah Berger,File)

McEnany pointed out the federal government has a duty to maintain order and protect federal property, despite what she described as “unconstructive attitudes” from left-wing political leaders.

“The federal government has a sworn duty to uphold the laws of the United States through field offices and federal facilities across the country. These agents protect and serve the American people. Yet, the rhetoric of the left undermines our justice system, with Nancy Pelosi calling them ‘Stormtroopers,’ Jim Clyburn calling them the ‘Gestapo,’ and Wheeler using the term ‘paramilitary forces.’” – Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary

DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli slammed top Democrats for this description. On Friday, Wolf called the comparison “disgusting” and claimed it is “an assault on
every officer who swore to protect our communities.”

In a separate interview, Cuccinelli stated lawmakers who use terms like “Nazi” and “Stormtroopers” should know better. He added if he worked for agencies like Customs and Border Patrol or the FBI, he would have sued for libel.

Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Sunday, July 19, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

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