The first Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, has weighed in on President Trump’s decision to send in federal agents into Portland, Oregon to protect federal buildings and property. The city is on fire from almost two months of consecutive demonstrations and rioting by Antifa and other anarchists.
Tom Ridge is doing what many Never Trump Republicans do – they side with the other side against Trump. Unfortunately, in this case, the other side are domestic terrorists and feckless Democrat city and state officials. He appeared on CNN on Wednesday and called Trump’s decision “a very disappointing response to a serious problem”. Then he made a dig at Trump using his former reality television gig.
“I’m not even sure they have a plan. Have they talked to the mayor? Have they talked to the chief of police? Have they talked to the US attorney? They’ll leave in a couple of weeks and the lawlessness will reemerge, and they still haven’t dealt with the social and economic conditions that underpin the lawlessness,” Ridge told CNN’s John Berman on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
“It’s a very disappointing response to a serious problem, but it’s typical of somebody who thinks reality TV is real.”
Ridge went on to question not only Trump’s idea of a sending a “surge” of federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and other American cities to quell the violence but if Trump has any other kind of plan besides overreaching his authority. “They aren’t his personal militia.”
“It seems like a reality TV approach,” Ridge said. “Let’s check this out: 200 officers and by the way, they are not his personal militia, but he’s going to send in 200 officers, good men and women, no doubt about that, to work with 13,000 police, men and women, no doubt with a sudden surge and they may have a few arrests and may have a few imprisonments but they’re not going to sustain that commitment, and nothing in this plan, I’m not sure they have a plan.
When the host questioned Ridge’s characterization of the officers as Trump’s “personal militia”. Trump hasn’t referred to them as that but Ridge assumed Trump was using the officers as such. It was a particularly nasty way of framing the argument.
“I mean that the men and women in not only DHS but throughout the federal law enforcement agencies and many, many agencies go to work every single day to try to provide safe and secure communities all around this country,” Ridge responded. “But you cannot secure the country from inside the beltway. So the best thing you can do is deploy these federal agents, good men and women to work in cooperation with the state and local law enforcement. But you just don’t pick up the phone and order them into any community, and, I would say — rarely will I speak for Republicans or Democrats or anybody in elected office — I doubt if there is a Republican or Democrat today, mayor or governor, that wouldn’t contest the unilateral incursion of federal agents without coordination with state and local law enforcement officials. I just don’t think that would happen. Nor should it, by the way. ”
Tom Ridge has always been a Never Trumper. He used the same term, personal militia, earlier in the week during a radio interview with another CNN show host.
Speaking to CNN’s Michael Smerconish on SiriusXM radio Tuesday, Ridge stressed that the Department of Homeland Security “was established to protect America from the ever-present threat of global terrorism. It was not established to be the President’s personal militia.”
“It would be a cold day in hell before I would give consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities,” he continued.
Asked about those comments Wednesday, Ridge declared that “you just don’t pick up the phone and order” federal agents into any community.
“I would dare say this — and rarely will I speak for Republicans or Democrats or anybody in elected office — I doubt if there’s a Republican or Democrat today, mayor or governor, that wouldn’t contest the unilateral incursion of federal agents without coordination with state and local law enforcement officials,” he said.
“I just don’t think that would happen. Nor should it, by the way.”
Ridge’s distaste of Trump skews logic, though. Trump waited almost two months as Portland burned before sending in federal agents. These professionals, as Ridge himself describes them, are not “stormtroopers” as Nancy Pelosi described them, or rogue agents taking away protesters’ Fourth Amendment rights. They are protecting federal property and assisting local law enforcement who have been hamstrung by local elected officials, the Democrats in charge. Ridge may like to talk tough but he’s in some kind of bubble where it is acceptable to criticize the president without offering his own solutions, as the former head of DHS. That is politics, not out of concern for public safety. These people are not Gestapo or thugs. They are doing what is asked of them and putting themselves at risk in the line of duty. To hear Ridge talk, he would do as the feckless Democrats are doing and remain silent or speak up with support for those destroying Portland.
Trump responded to Ridge on Thursday morning.