The same day Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced federal agents sent to the city last week are demobilizing, the Trump administration reportedly began talks Tuesday with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to move agents out of Portland.
The drawing down of federal troops would be contingent on Portland stepping up its own enforcement as the city continues to have large nightly protests that frequently turn violent, a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press.
The talks are in the early stages and no agreement is in place, the official said.
Federal agents have deployed to Seattle, Portland and other cities recently to protect federal property from continued protests.
Meanwhile, Trump continued his criticism of Portland’s leadership Tuesday. “We, as you know, have done an excellent job of watching over Portland and watching our courthouse where they wanted to burn it down, they’re anarchists, nothing short of anarchist agitators,” Trump said in a White House press briefing. “And we have protected it very powerfully. And if we didn’t go there, I will tell you, you wouldn’t have a courthouse. You’d have a billion-dollar burned-out building.”
Tactics used by federal agents have been controversial, including not wearing identifying uniforms and “arresting people without a warrant and without probable cause,” according to Judge Andrew Napolitano.
The Wall of Moms and Don’t Shoot Portland have both sued the Department of Homeland Security, claiming it unconstitutionally sent federal law enforcement to disperse crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The American Civil Liberties Union has also accused agents of violating a federal ruling that bars them from targeting journalists and legal observers at protests.
Last weekend, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams in Oregon said in an interview Portlanders should insist “violent extremists” leave the protests.
“Until that happens, we’re going to do what we need to do to protect federal property,‘’ he told the Oregonian.
Protesters continually try to tear down a fence erected to protect the federal courthouse, fires are set in the street and fireworks, Molotov cocktails, bricks, rocks and bottles are often thrown at agents.
In response, agents use tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades to push back protesters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.