Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced plans to maintain federal law enforcement’s presence in Portland on Wednesday until federal property is secure, contrasting Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s claims that agents will begin withdrawing from Portland on Thursday.
Wolf and Brown both claimed to have reached a decision together, but their announcements emphasize very different aspects of an ambiguous agreement that Brown calls a “phased withdrawal” and that Wolf says will maintain the current presence of federal law enforcement.
“The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure,” Wolf said in a statement. “Should circumstances on the ground significantly improve due to the influx of state and local law enforcement, we anticipate the ability to change our force posture.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Brown issued a statement that “the federal government has agreed to my demand and will withdraw these officers from Portland.”
After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 29, 2020
“Beginning Thursday, all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers will leave downtown Portland, and shortly thereafter will begin going home,” she added.
In a tweet that seemed directed at Brown’s announcement, Wolf confirmed on Wednesday, “We are not removing any law enforcement while our facilities and law enforcement remain under attack.”
As I told the Governor yesterday, federal law enforcement will remain in Portland until the violent activity toward our federal facilities ends. We are not removing any law enforcement while our facilities and law enforcement remain under attack.
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 29, 2020
President Trump also weighed in, suggesting that federal agents could remain in Portland. “If the Mayor and Governor do not stop the Crime and Violence from the Anarchists and Agitators immediately, the Federal Government will go in and do the job that local law enforcement was supposed to do!” he tweeted.
Despite Wolf’s pledge to keep federal agents in Portland until federal properties are secure, the New York Times’ headline on the announcement picked up Brown’s claim. “Federal Tactical Teams to Withdraw From Portland, Governor Says,” proclaimed the article.
This comes on the same day that support for protests has dropped, according to a new Reuters poll. Fifty-two percent of Americans are “sympathetic” to protesters, a decrease of about 12 percentage points since last month. While Democrats’ opinion on President Trump’s response to the protests has remained the same, 78 percent of Republicans — 11 percentage points higher than in June — approve of the Trump administration’s actions.