White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany says “law and order will prevail” in defending the actions of federal agents in Portland, Oregon. She also doubled down on reopening schools in the fall.
Watch the White House press briefing stream in the video player above.
“The federal government has a sworn duty to uphold the laws of the United States through field offices and federal facilities across the country,” said McEnany during a news briefing Friday.
“These are not the actions of so-called peaceful protesters in the Trump administration will not stand by and allow anarchy in our streets.”
This comes after eighteen people have been arrested this week, on federal charges while protesting the presence of federal law enforcement agents, the state’s top U.S. prosecutor said Friday.
The number of arrests doesn’t include those made early Friday, when federal agents again used tear gas against demonstrators.
Protesters had projected lasers on the building and attempted to take down a security fence that had been reinforced to keep demonstrators at a distance. The protesters moved away as clouds of gas rose from the area and flash grenades could be heard.
An ACLU lawsuit is one of several filed in response to law enforcement actions during the protests. The state of Oregon is seeking an order limiting federal agents’ arrest powers during the demonstrations.
The Justice Department’s inspector general said Thursday it will review the conduct of federal agents who responded to unrest in Portland and in Washington after concerns emerged from members of Congress and the public.
McEnany also doubled down on President Donald Trump’s insistence that U.S. schools reopen in the fall despite a nationwide surge in virus cases, saying the White House believes that schools and teachers are “essential.”
“It is our firm belief that our schools are essential places of business, if you will, that our teachers are essential personnel,” McEnany said at the White House press briefing Friday.
Asked why President Trump felt it appropriate to cancel the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention due to soaring COVID cases, but he still believes kids should return to classrooms, McEnany said “schools are a different situation.”
She said the CDC guidelines state that children are “not affected in the same way as adults” and arrangements for social distancing are easier to make in schools.
On Russia and Trump’s phone call with President Vladimir Putin Thursday, McEnany wouldn’t say whether reports of Russian bounties being offered on U.S. troops in Afghanistan came up on the call.
She reiterated the administration claim that the “intelligence is unverified still to this day. There are dissenting opinions within the intel community.”
Asked later in the briefing whether the topic of election security came up during the phone call, McEnany said she “wasn’t on the call,” but added that Trump “has taken more actions for election security than his predecessor.”