Trump signals he will send federal agents to major cities

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE on Monday signaled he may order federal agents to be deployed to Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and other major cities as he threatens to crack down further on unrest across the country.

Trump was asked in the Oval Office about reports that the government was sending 175 federal troops to those cities to aid local law enforcement.

"Well, it depends on what your definition of 'troops' is," he told reporters. "I mean, we're sending law enforcement."

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Trump cited heightened violence in Chicago and New York City, in particular, both of which have seen a rise in shootings in recent weeks. In the latter's case, he blamed city and state officials for restricting police from taking a stronger response.

"I'm going to do something — that, I can tell you," Trump said. "Because we're not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these Oakland is a mess. We're not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats."

The government is expected to send 150 agents to Chicago this week. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security would roll out specific plans of action on deploying federal resources later in the day.

Trump has for weeks threatened federal intervention in major cities as protests against police brutality and racial inequality persist in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in late May. He has fixated in recent days on the situation in Portland, Ore., where demonstrations have continued for more than 50 days, leading to the administration sending in federal law enforcement to respond. 

Democratic leaders and civil rights groups have condemned the Trump administration's actions in Portland, where people were reportedly being picked up by agents in unmarked vans over the weekend. Video has gone viral of law enforcement using a chemical irritant to disperse a group of mothers protesting in the street.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said Sunday the presence of federal law enforcement is leading to more violence in the city and called for their removal. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has also called for federal officers to be removed from the city and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) sued federal agencies on Friday over the detention of protesters.

But Trump on Monday argued that federal agents in Portland had done a "fantastic job" and claimed the Democratic leaders in the cities he named were unwilling to act to deter further violence.

"The governor and the mayor and the senators out there, they're afraid of these people," Trump said. "That’s the reason they don’t want us to help them. They're afraid. I really believe they're actually maybe even physically afraid of these people because what they're doing is incredible.