"Do you disavow the violence from Antifa that's happening in Portland right now?" journalist Austen Fleccas asked Representative Jerrold Nadler (D -- New York) on Monday. "That's a myth that's being spread only in Washington, D.C.," Nadler replied.
The next day, Nadler further explained Portland's mythical instability. He excoriated William Barr at a hearing/verbal abuse session that the House Judiciary Committee arranged for the attorney general.
Clearly enraged by the Trump administration's surge of federal officers sent to Portland to combat the carnage that is not happening there, Nadler said, "The president wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered."
"The playbook is to create the impression that there is violence, that he must send in federal troops," Representative Zoe Lofgren (D -- California) said at Tuesday's meeting. "And that is how he [President Trump] hopes to win the election."
Governor Kate Brown (D -- Oregon) wrote Wednesday via Twitter that federal agents "have acted as an occupying force & brought violence." Brown's words echoed those of Mayor Ted Wheeler (D -- Portland). As he wrote via Twitter on July 14, "my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days . . . We do not need or want their help."
But on July 3, Wheeler blamed others for his city's chaos.
"I remain deeply concerned, however, by groups who continue to perpetrate violence and vandalism on our streets," Wheeler wrote via Twitter, a day before federal Homeland Security officers reached Portland. "This has been going on for more than a month now."
Unlike House Democrats, who mainly told Barr to shut up, Republicans introduced a radical reform: They asked Barr questions and let him answer.
"As far as the weapons you mentioned, let me get this straight," said Representative Steve Chabot (R- Ohio). He listed "rifles, explosives, knives, saws, sledgehammers, Tasers, slingshots, rocks, bricks, lasers. Have I missed anything?"
"You have missed some things, but that's a good list," Barr replied. "They have these powerful slingshots with ball bearings that they shoot. They have used pellet guns, we believe. We have found those projectiles have penetrated Marshals to the bone . . . They do start fires. They start fires, if they can get the fire inside or through the windows. And they start fires along the outside of the courthouse. When the Marshals come out to try to deal with the fires, they are assaulted."
The Associated Press' Michael Balsamo embedded himself inside the Mark Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. His dispatches, via Twitter, are chilling. "The lights inside the courthouse have to be turned off for safety & the light from high-powered lasers bounced across the lobby almost all night. The fear is palpable. Three officers were struck in the last few weeks & still haven't regained their vision."
DHS' deployment to Portland is not ritual chest beating. It's not toxic masculinity. It's the law. According to 40 U.S. Code Â§ 1315, the Secretary of Homeland Security "shall protect the buildings, grounds, and property that are owned, occupied, or secured by the Federal Government." Acting Secretary Chad Wolf would break federal law if he left the courthouse undefended and let Antifa & Co. burn it to the ground.
"What makes me concerned for the country is this is the first time in my memory that the leaders of one of our great two political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts," Attorney General Barr said. "Why can't we just say violence against federal courts has to stop? Could we hear something like that?"