- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders ripped President Trump on Thursday for planning to deploy more federal law enforcement forces within the country, calling it emblematic of a “police state.”

Mr. Sanders, Vermont independent and former Democratic presidential hopeful, slammed Mr. Trump during an interview for threatening to send federal agents to several U.S. cities.

“I don’t want to get people too nervous here, but we have a president who really does not believe in democracy,” Mr. Sanders told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell during the interview.

“This is a president who is trying to suppress the vote. This is a president who has contempt for Congress — ignores what Congress does. This is a president who does not respect a free press in America — the First Amendment. He thinks the media is the enemy of the people. And now what this president is saying is, ‘I don’t care what mayors say, I don’t care what governors say, I am the president, I will send federal troops, or federal agents, to anyplace in this country.’ That is, Andrea, what a police state is about. That is what a movement toward authoritarianism is about,” Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Sanders was addressing the Trump administration recently sending Department of Homeland Security officers to Portland, Oregon, and planning to deploy more to others cities — all run by Democratic mayors. Protests against racial injustice and police brutality have continued to take place in those cities following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis police custody, in late May.

“A president cannot send troops wherever he wants to quash dissent. People have a First Amendment right to protest. And obviously all of us hope that those protests are not violent. I think that’s counterproductive. But you cannot, as a president, just send troops willy-nilly. That is what a police state is about. And the American people, regardless of political views, have to have to oppose that,” Mr. Sanders said.

Camouflaged and masked authorities in unmarked vehicles have recently started arresting protesters in Portland, leading the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the Trump administration last week and prompting the U.S. attorney for Oregon, the top federal law enforcement official in the state, to request an investigation into their actions.

More recently, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, was tear gassed by federal officers Wednesday night while attempting to participate in a protest against racial injustice.

Appearing on MSNBC the next afternoon, Mr. Sanders said conservative Republicans should join him in denouncing the Trump administration if they actually despise “Big Government.”

“If you hate Big Government, you surely hate federal agents arresting people, grabbing people, putting them into unmarked cars without any identification,” he said. “If you don’t like Big Government, my God you’ve got to speak up against that type of outrageous behavior.”

The White House did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

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