Spanberger Urges U.S. House Homeland Security, Judiciary Committees to Continue Robust Oversight & Begin Investigations into Federal Law Enforcement Actions in Portland

Last Week, the Congresswoman Demanded Answers from Attorney General Barr and Acting DHS Secretary Wolf about Deployment of Unidentified Federal Law Enforcement Personnel & Ongoing Actions in Portland

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger joined 16 of her colleagues in urging U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to begin investigations into federal law enforcement actions in Portland.

This effort follows the announcement that the Homeland Security Committee will hold a July 31 hearing on recent events in Portland.

“With the President’s announcement on July 22nd that he will send federal law enforcement officers into additional American cities, Congress must take action. We could not agree more with the sentiments expressed in your statement — Congress must find a way to ‘rein in the Trump Administration’s growing militarization and misuse of federal law enforcement against the American people.’ The internal investigations from the Inspectors General announced on July 23rd will hopefully provide important answers,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “But with this Administration’s history of undermining and obfuscating independent executive branch investigations, it is vital that Congress assert its role as a co-equal branch of government and fully exercise its oversight responsibility.”

The Members continued, “To that end, we ask you both to begin comprehensive congressional investigations in your respective committees, as soon as possible, to hear directly from the Administration on their presumed legal justifications, the chain of command, and their plans to rectify the civil rights abuses that have occurred during the recent and ongoing protests.”

Last week, Spanberger joined a group of 117 Members of Congress in demanding information from U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf about unidentified federal law enforcement personnel deployed in Portland, Oregon — over the objections of state and local officials.

The letter sent to Chairman Thompson and Chairman Nadler was led by U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11). Spanberger was joined on the letter by U.S. Representatives Terri A. Sewell (D-AL-07), Jared Huffman (D-CA-02), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), Elaine G. Luria (D-VA-02), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL).

Click here to read the full letter, and the letter text is below.

Dear Chairman Thompson and Chairman Nadler,

Thank you for the work you and your committees are doing to protect our rule of law and to hold this Administration accountable. This is a unique and challenging time in our country’s history, and we are grateful to you both for your leadership and your dedication to Congress’s critical oversight responsibility.

We support the statement you released, alongside Armed Services Committee Chairman Smith, expressing your concern over the actions of federal law enforcement in Portland and demanding an investigation by the Administration into the situation there. We are also glad to see that the Homeland Security Committee will be holding a hearing on this topic next week.

We have been deeply disturbed by the reports coming out of Portland. Federal law enforcement officers’ first responsibility is to the Constitution and the laws of our nation. The actions we have seen in Portland — federal law enforcement patrolling the streets in unmarked cars, dressed in fatigues, making arrests without probable cause, and declining to identify themselves when asked — are not in keeping with either our Constitution, our laws, or our values. They are the actions of a police state, and in violation of the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendment rights of American citizens.

With the President’s announcement on July 22nd that he will send federal law enforcement officers into additional American cities, Congress must take action. We could not agree more with the sentiments expressed in your statement — Congress must find a way to “rein in the Trump Administration’s growing militarization and misuse of federal law enforcement against the American people.”

The internal investigations from the Inspectors General announced on July 23rd will hopefully provide important answers. But with this Administration’s history of undermining and obfuscating independent executive branch investigations, it is vital that Congress assert its role as a co-equal branch of government and fully exercise its oversight responsibility.

To that end, we ask you both to begin comprehensive congressional investigations in your respective committees, as soon as possible, to hear directly from the Administration on their presumed legal justifications, the chain of command, and their plans to rectify the civil rights abuses that have occurred during the recent and ongoing protests.

We wish to express our strong support in advance of your efforts. Thank you again for your dedication, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that our citizens do not have to fear arbitrary arrest when exercising their constitutional rights.

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