Lindsey Graham on Portland Riots: Without Feds to Protect Courthouse ‘They’d Have Burned the God Damned Thing Down’

Senate Judiciary Committee

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution that the nightly assaults on the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, required government intervention, because local law enforcement refused to quell the attacks on the building and the federal officers already stationed on the property.

Graham asked Department of Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli about the fate of the courthouse if additional officers had not been deployed.

“If we’d done nothing, what would have happened to the courthouse, Mr. Cuccinelli, in Portland?” Graham asked. 

“That courthouse wouldn’t be there in any functional ….” Cuccinelli said.

“So I challenge anybody on the other side to say different,” Graham said, interrupting Cuccinelli and challenging Democrats on the committee.

“If we hadn’t intervened, they’d have burned the God damn thing down,” Graham said.

Graham went on to cite the unrest in Seattle, where rioters took over a portion of downtown and destroyed a police station and other property. And he cited the ongoing string of homicides in Chicago, contrasting it with legitimate protests that sprang up after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

“Being upset about what happened to Mr. Floyd is absolutely all-American,” Graham said. “Trying to occupy a part of a city and turn it into a socialist enclave [is] not.”

“So we’ve got a lot going on in this country, and I don’t want to blend them in,” Graham said. “I don’t know what’s going on in Chicago, but it’s not about Mr. Floyd. Young kids are getting killed just outside their house.”

“Somebody needs to do something about it,” Graham said. “This committee is going to look at all of it. And all of it means what’s going on in Chicago, and should the federal government help?”

“How many kids have to die every weekend before enough is enough?” Graham said. 

“As to the state police in Portland, I’m glad you’re there,” Graham said, referring to local law enforcement agreeing to help federal police secure the federal courthouse. “I hope it works out. But if you can’t take care of it, we will.” 

“That’s not being totalitarian,” Graham said. “That’s applying the law that exists in the United States.”

“It’s a federal responsibility to protect federal property,” Graham said. “Do you agree with that Mr. Cuccinelli?”

“Yes, sir,” Cuccinelli said.

Graham also said the committee would follow developments around the country, including holding police accountable if they use “excessive force” and whether or not the dozens of people arrested for assaulting officers are prosecuted.

“So I want to put you both on notice that we’re going hold you accountable for prosecuting those who hurt our cops,” Graham said to Cuccinelli and U.S. Attorney for northern Texas Erin Neely Cox, who was also on the panel at the hearing.

Democrat Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley also spoke at the hearing – not because they are on the committee, but because the state was a subject of the hearing.

Both accused President Donald Trump of sending in “secret police” to arrest peaceful protesters, a claim Cuccinelli flatly denied, saying the officers were clearly identified as federal police and that the nightly confrontations were with rioters and not peaceful protesters.

Another panelist at the hearing was citizen journalist Andy Ngo, who has meticulously documented the Portland riots on social media for weeks.

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