OVER? White House, Oregon Governor In Discussions To Draw Down Fed Presence In Portland Per Report

Trump administration officials are reportedly in talks with the Oregon governor’s office to resolve ongoing unrest in Portland, and, as part of the discussion, officials from both parties are negotiating a withdrawal of federal agents assigned to protect a downtown Portland federal courthouse, according to a report from the Associated Press.

An unnamed “senior White House official” told the outlet Tuesday that talks on the issue “are in the early stages and there is no agreement,” but that both parties are looking for a resolution to ongoing, nightly violence in the city.

Federal agents — members of an elite branch of the Customs and Border Protection Agency — have been in Portland since late June, protecting the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, which has been at the center of nightly riots, led by an anarchist group, for more than eight weeks.

During the day, the courthouse is besieged by mostly peaceful protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, but at night, a more violent element appears. The courthouse has been the target of several arson attempts, and federal officials, sent in to defend the property, have been subject to Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and even high powered lasers, which the White House claims have left at least three federal agents permanently blind.

There are concerns that the presence of federal agents is inflaming tensions within the city, and the federal government is now being targeted by Portland’s officials and fined $500 for every 15 minutes a chain-link fence, creating a perimeter around the courthouse itself, is left standing, per Forbes. Portland officials say the fence is blocking a bike lane, and so far, the federal government has racked up more than $200,000 in charges.

Administration officials, though, are hesitant to give a timeline for federal involvement.

According to the Hill, the U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, Billy Williams, told reporters that federal agents will remain in Portland as long as the city refuses to get rioters under control.

“It is not a solution to tell federal officers to leave when there continues to be attacks on federal property and personnel. We are not leaving the building unprotected to be destroyed by people intent on doing so,” Williams said.

President Donald Trump echoed the same sentiment in discussions with reporters 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. “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.”

One thing both parties to any potential negotiations seem to agree on: Portland officials, including its mayor, Ted Wheeler, will not be involved in discussions. On Tuesday, Wheeler’s office begged Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf’s office for a meeting, asking to help broker a “ceasefire” between agents and rioters.

Although the Oregon governor’s office was eventually able to enter into discussions with the federal government, according to the AP report, Wheeler’s office seems to have been left out, likely because Wheeler has little power to help dictate terms of a ceasefire and no control over rioting factions.

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