Portland Mayor responds to AG Barr's threat of arrest: 'Befitting of a totalitarian regime'

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler appeared on CNN Tonight With Don Lemon Thursday, where he responded to reports that Attorney General Willam Barr considered arresting Wheeler and other Portland officials, as well as officials in other cities, following Black Lives Matter protests. As protesters continued to clash with law enforcement in Portland, the Department of Justice conducted research into whether or not it could pursue charges against city officials over their handling of the unrest. Barr reportedly also asked DOJ officials to consider bringing charges against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan over her handling of the protests.

“This is not the first time that President Trump or other members of his administration have threatened us with investigation or threatened us with arrest, and what’s clearly going on here is that this is an overstepping by the President of the United States,” Wheeler said. “To threaten any duly elected official with arrest merely because he disagrees with our politics, this to me is outrageous, it’s condescending and it’s more befitting of a totalitarian regime than it is the greatest democracy on this planet. It’s ridiculous.”

Barr also reportedly urged federal prosecutors to charge violent protesters with sedition, which would effectively charge them with conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government. Wheeler believes that is a threat to the right of public protest.

“I think it’s a threat to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the right to assembly, the right to free speech,” Wheeler said. “What this president fails to understand is the reason millions of Americans are taking to the streets isn’t because they’re trying to take over the government, they’re coming to the streets because they want racial justice and equity in the United States. It’s way past due.This is our national reckoning, and rather than being scared about it, as the president clearly is, he should be embracing this as a leadership opportunity.”

CNN Tonight With Don Lemon airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on CNN.

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