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Trump calls Lightfoot to discuss sending more than 200 federal agents to Chicago: To help local cops, not patrol Portland-style

“This is not patrol. This is not against civil unrest,” U.S. Attorney John Lausch said. “This is working with the Chicago Police Department to do what we can to reduce the staggering violent crime we’re facing right now.”

After throwing a national spotlight on violent crime in Chicago from the White House – and trashing Democratic mayors in fiery campaign-style remarks - President Donald Trump talked to Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday evening to discuss the 200 federal agents he is sending to the city.

Trump on Wednesday said he is expanding “Operation Legend,” with the agents heading to Chicago to bolster existing law enforcement efforts — not create a Portland-style camouflaged paramilitary strike force that is attracting widespread criticism.

The agents will work in partnership with Chicago police and Lightfoot’s office under the direction of U.S. Attorney John Lausch, who Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, knows and trusts.

Trump and Lightfoot are in agreement over the strategy of sending in agents to plug into existing operations. Trump, who has bragged since his 2016 campaign he knows how to easily solve crime in Chicago, did not take a future heavier handed response off the table. That’s why Lightfoot is wary.

City Hall disclosed the call with Trump, detailing in a statement the city’s understanding of the arrangement.

Trump “reached out to Mayor Lightfoot this evening to confirm that he plans to send federal resources to Chicago to supplement ongoing federal investigations pertaining to violent crime. The conversation was brief and straightforward.

“Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.”

The federal help arrives as the city continues to struggle to contain gun violence, with the latest tragedy on Tuesday night, with a shooting outside a gang funeral that left 15 people wounded. Trump noted the Tuesday shootings.

Among those in the East Room for the announcement was the mother of Vernado Jones Jr., 14, one of eight people shot near 61st and Carpenter on the Fourth of July.

As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General William Barr earlier sent agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA and ATF to help state and local law enforcement, beginning in Kansas City, Missouri.

The shootings continue as the city is struggling with COVID-19, and there is a renewed national focus on racial injustice and police brutality with the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Barr, at the White House, not using Floyd’s name, called his murder a “terrible event” prompting “this extreme response.”

On Wednesday:

• About policy — In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, before Trump’s announcement, Lausch, at the the White House, said the more than 200 extra agents “will be folded into the current FBI, ATF, DEA and (Department of) Homeland Security teams that are already working in Chicago with the Chicago Police Department and the other local and state law enforcement.”

Lausch was explicit in stating that the beefed-up agent presence in Chicago would not resemble Portland, where camouflaged federal agents are patrolling streets and making arrests as part of their “mission” to protect federal buildings.

“This is not patrol. This is not against civil unrest,” he said.

“This is working with the Chicago Police Department to do what we can to reduce the staggering violent crime we’re facing right now.”

Lausch said the federal teams will work with the Chicago Police Department to focus on “gangs, guns and drugs.”

While agents may wear tactical gear or work undercover, they will not be dressed in camouflage, Lausch said.

Lausch said he has talked to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown “multiple times. And he knows the agents are coming.”

“Equally as important, people in my office are communicating with people across several levels of the Chicago Police Department and the federal agencies to make sure we’re all on the same page regarding strategy and process and procedures going forward.”

Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf said at the White House, “The DHS mission in Portland is to protect federal property and our law enforcement officers. In Chicago, the mission is to protect the public from violent crime on the streets.”

• Regarding politics — Trump is making “law and order” a central campaign theme. At the announcement, he blasted what he asserted was a “radical movement to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments,” things Lightfoot is not doing. He also deplored the “Chicago politicians” who support sanctuary cities.

Lightfoot knew about Trump’s remarks by the time she held an already scheduled press conference, and she had a fierce reaction. “The President has been on a campaign now for some time against Democratic mayor’s across the country,” Lightfoot said. “The President is trying to divert attention from his failed leadership on COVID-19. He has failed. He has failed. He has failed.”

At a news conference later Wednesday, Trump was asked about Lightfoot’s slap.

Trump said, “The cities, unfortunately, that are in trouble are all run by Democrats. You have radical-left Democrats running cities like Chicago and so many others.”

Trump then totally misrepresented Lightfoot’s position. Said Trump, “Chicago is a disaster. The mayor is saying, “Don’t come in.” The mayor is telling us not to come in. At some point, we can void that if we have to, but we — and we may have to, at some — because it’s out of control. ...She’s a — she’s a Democrat. I’m going to be nice. She’s a Democrat. She’s making a big mistake. People are dying in Chicago and other cities, and we can solve the problem.”