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Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller accused President Trump of employing “a gaslighting strategy” and criticized the decision to order federal agents into his city.
The New Mexico Democrat spoke with CNN guest anchor Kate Bolduan on Wednesday about the president’s announcement that the federal government was intervening to quell ongoing violence in some U.S. cities, claiming that he had been given no notification prior to the decision he sees as a “bait and switch” concept.
Keller had dismissed the Justice Department’s Operation Legend, the federal law enforcement operation to confront violence in American cities, denouncing it as a publicity stunt and calling the federal officers Trump’s secret police force.
He doubled down on CNN’s “Out Front” Wednesday when Bolduan began the interview by asking him: “Now that you’ve heard the announcement, do you feel any differently?”
“Well, I don’t, and, you know, it’s just because we’re very concerned about this concept where it’s a real bait and switch,” Keller replied.
“You know, we hear one thing and then two weeks later like in Portland, all of a sudden it is secret police trying to round up protesters. And I think every mayor in the country wants to never see what’s happening in Portland in their city,” the Democrat added.
“And for us right now because of the president’s own words, when he says he’s going after Democrat cities as part of his re-election strategy, we’re very concerned it’s about inciting violence,” Keller said.
“Do you know or have you been told what these officers are going to be doing in Albuquerque?” the CNN host asked.
“This is what’s so interesting about this,” Keller replied. “You almost know that something is up because one, the president is talking about Albuquerque which doesn’t usually happen. But two, we’ve been told nothing. And usually we get formal MOU’s [Memoranda of Understanding], we get details, there’s task forces put in place. We have received no formal documentation about this at all.”
Bolduan then played a clip of Attorney General Bill Barr explaining that the teams will be doing “classic crime-fighting” in the cities.
“If this program is just what Bill Barr says, could you use the help?” she asked the mayor, noting the record number of homicides in the city in 2019.
“We always want to try and find partnership when we’re fighting crime,” Keller responded.
“The challenge is the disconnect between the president and the attorney general and, you know, I think you’ve got to look at the voice at the top and, you know, yesterday that voice was explicitly articulating sort of a gaslighting strategy against immigrants and people of color and protesters in progressive Democrat cities,” he claimed.
“If we can get a situation where we’re assured that our values in our city are maintained in the operation, that it actually is what the A.G. says, then of course, we can work together on it. We do it on a daily basis,” Keller added. “It’s just usually not involving the president of the United States.”
Barr announced Operation Legend earlier this month aimed at combatting violent crime in Kansas City where a four-year-old boy, LeGend Taliferro, was fatally shot while sleeping last month. Agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were dispatched at the request of Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot has accused Trump of trying to “terrorize” her city with federal forces. Soon after she declared that “under no circumstances” would she allow it, more than two dozen people were injured from gunfire outside of a funeral home in the South Side of Chicago.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 22, 2020
Bolduan asked Albuquerque’s mayor if he did not trust the Trump administration and the federal help being extended, which amounts to a total of 35 federal agents, according to Barr.
“You know, we don’t. I think for good reason,” Keller said, citing examples such as the “separation of children at the border.”
“For us, there is just a history of them being very two-faced and so as a result, we don’t really trust them,” he added.
“And I think until the president will put in writing and in an MOU agreement that ‘this is not Portland, I will never repeat Portland and that’s not what this is’, and then agree to city ordinances which we have to protect people of color and immigrants, then we can work together,” he concluded.
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