Democratic lawmakers have accused the president of using the federal police deployments as a campaign tactic, targeting cities with Democratic leadership. Part of his sales pitch for a second term, despite trailing former vice president Joe Biden nationally and in most key swing states, is that he is a “law-and-order president”.
But majorities of American voters, according to multiple polls taken in recent weeks, oppose Mr Trump’s response to violence across the country, a large portion of which is linked to the killing of George Floyd and other black people by white police officers.
Donald Trump has announced he will “surge” federal law enforcement officers to Chicago “immediately” to quell violence there, building on a similar force already operating under legally questionable orders in Portland.
The FBI, ATF, Drug Enforcement Agency, US Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security will send “hundreds” of what he called “very skilled” officers to Chicago “immediately”, he said during an East Room ceremony.
The president said violent protesters in Chicago and other cities are breaking “multiple federal laws”, and he expects the federal police forces to make many arrests as Chicago’s mayor offered a lukewarm reaction.
“If those agents are here to actually work in partnership … not trying to play police in our streets, then that’s something different, and that may add value,” said Democrat Lori Lightfoot. “But the proof is going to be in the pudding.”
Amid reports Kansas City is next, the president said additional deployments to other cities are coming soon. Specifically, he pointed to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
He accused Democratic officials at the local, state and national level of trying to defund the police and catering to violent undocumented immigrants as the announcement turned into yet another campaign event.
“Opportunity cannot thrive where there is violence,” he said. “Security cannot exist where there are violent criminals.”
Attorney general William Barr, who spoke after the president, added Kansas City to the list, saying others will be added to the list “in the weeks ahead”.
Mr Barr said recent violence is directly related to an “attack” on police, presumably the “defund the police” slogan pushed by some black activists and a number of Democratic lawmakers.
When that slogan went viral earlier this year, many House and some Senate Democrats repeated it publicly. But they quickly were forced to scramble and explain they meant not to completely strip monies from police departments, explaining that they wanted to transfer some of their funding to other social programmes.
‘Rampage of violence’
«This rampage of violence … shocks our nation. … We will not stand by and watch it,» Mr Trump added, criticising Democratic leaders
“Shocking explosion of … murders … and heinous crimes,” the president said, vowing to “bring violent perpetrators to justice”.