WH Denies Any ‘Secretive Operations Going On’ In Portland As Unidentified Forces Prowl Streets

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 21, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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July 21, 2020 12:57 p.m.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday denied any “secretive operations” happening in Portland as unidentified federal law enforcement officers are being deployed to quell ongoing protests.

Last week, videos from protests against racial inequality and police brutality in the city showed Department of Homeland Security personnel arresting protesters and placing them in unmarked SUVs. On Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) and the American Civil Liberties Union sued federal agencies over DHS’ detention of protesters.

On Sunday, President Trump — who touted last month that he is the president of “law and order” as he pushed for an aggressive federal response to protests nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death — tweeted that his administration is “trying to help Portland, not hurt it.”

When asked during a press briefing on Tuesday about why the President has not invoked the Insurrection Act to have a “big show of force” in Portland — citing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) move last month to deploy the National Guard in front of Los Angeles City Hall to quell protests — McEnany said that she will leave it up to Trump and denied any “secretive operations” happening in Portland.

“We don’t have secretive operations going on — it’s very clear what’s going on in Portland,” McEnany said, before adding that it’s also “very clear” what’s happening in Kansas City regarding protests.

McEnany said that when it comes to invoking the Insurrection Act, the Trump administration looks to local officials to quell the unrest that has ensued in their cities.

“But with regard to the Insurrection act, we believe that it should be governors and mayors doing what they have the constitutional power to do,” McEnany said. “The
police power rests with them so it’s up to this President whether he ever decides to invoke that.”

McEnany went on to slam Democratic governors and mayors who she said “really need to step it up” when streets are “out of control.”

McEnany’s remarks come a day after six big city mayors issued a letter to the Trump administration and Congress objecting to the unsolicited deployment of federal forces in their cities, arguing that the move is political and reminiscent of authoritarian regimes.

McEnany’s latest briefing echoes her remarks during an interview on Fox News the day before when she accused Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for being “a mayor who is unwilling to admit that he lost control of his city.”

Watch McEnany’s remarks below:

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