Are Federal Forces Leaving Portland?

The Story.

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon announced on Twitter that federal forces would soon be leaving Portland, but the Trump administration says there are conditions.


What Conditions?

Ms. Brown and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have reached an agreement that would allow federal forces to leave Portland and have the Oregon State Police provide security to the federal courthouse. The courthouse has been the hub of protests in the past few weeks, and the Trump administration deployed federal forces at the beginning of July to protect it and other federal properties. The governor indicated that federal forces could begin leaving as soon as Thursday.


It’s Not That Simple.

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of DHS, said in a statement that although the department and Gov. Brown have reached an agreement, there will continue to be a federal presence in the city until federal property is no longer under attack.


“State and local law enforcement will begin securing properties and streets, especially those surrounding federal properties,” Mr. Wolf said. “We anticipate the ability to change our force posture,” he added, but only once the situation on the ground “significantly improve” with more state and local officers on their way.


Words from the White House.

Only hours before the agreement was announced, President Trump had taken a much harsher and more threatening stance on the presence of federal officers in Portland.


While acknowledging rumors of ending the federal presence in the city, Mr. Trump said, “We’re not leaving until they’ve secured their city. We told the governor. We told the mayor. Secure your city. If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice. We’re going to have to go in and clean it out.”


Gov. Brown indicated that Vice President Mike Pence was one of the people involved in the discussions around removing federal officers in Portland.


What’s the Bottom Line?

With differing messages coming from the administration, it is uncertain how the removal of federal forces in Portland will play out. It would appear that a federal presence will only end when the administration is certain that additional state and local law enforcement can handle the situation, but what this looks like is not stated in clear terms.