Calling Chicago ‘a disaster,’ Trump announces surge of federal agents will be sent to deal with violence spike

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Calling Chicago ‘a disaster,’ Trump announces surge of federal agents will be sent to deal with violence spike

President Donald Trump speaks about Operation Legend in the East Room of the White House, July 22, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

President Donald Trump, who once insisted Chicago’s crime problem could be solved within a week, announced plans Wednesday to send a “surge of federal law enforcement” to the city to address ongoing violence.

Though agents also will be sent to Albuquerque, N.M., and could eventually be seen in New York and Philadelphia and other locations, Trump singled out Chicago as being in the most critical need of additional resources.

“Perhaps no citizens have suffered more from the menace of violent crime than the wonderful people of Chicago, a city I know very well,” Trump said.

Attorney General William Barr said hundreds of federal agents could take part in the surge in the city, where they will be engaged in “classic crime fighting” such as investigating murders, gangs, gun crime and drug trafficking organizations. The new agents will include members of the FBI, US Marshals Service, the DEA and the Department of Homeland Security, among others.

The president called Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot after his news conference to reiterate his plan. Lightfoot described the call as “brief and straightforward” in a statement, despite the rancor that has defined their social media exchanges in recent months.

The mayor offered a measured response to the announcement, expressing both cautious optimism about the additional resources and skepticism about Trump’s motives. She has repeatedly said the kind of force captured on camera on the streets of Portland, Oregon, is not welcome in Chicago.

“If those agents are here to actually work in partnership and support of gun violence and violent cases, plugging into existing infrastructure of federal agents, not trying to play police in our streets, then that’s something different,” Lightfoot said, “but the proof is going to be in the pudding.”

President Donald Trump walks into the East Room to speak about Operation Legend at the White House on July 22, 2020.

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