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After a hellish first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, a Portland-area sheriff highlighted one particular lie from the president.
“Law enforcement? I have almost every law enforcement group in the United States. I have Florida, I have Texas, I have Ohio,” Trump said from the stage in Cleveland Tuesday night, listing off a number of law enforcement entities around the country who support his reelection. “I have, excuse me, Portland, the sheriff there just came out today and said, ‘I support President Trump.’”
Problem is, Portland doesn’t have a sheriff. And if Trump meant the sheriff of Multnomah County, which includes the city of Portland, that alleged support is a complete fabrication.
“In tonight’s presidential debate, the President said the ‘Portland Sheriff’ supports him,” Sheriff Mike Reese tweeted within minutes of the president’s claim on live television. “As the Multnomah County Sheriff, I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him.”
The tweet had earned nearly 240,000 retweets and over 750,000 likes as of Wednesday morning.
A couple hours later, the sheriff followed up with a critique of how the president has handled months of chaotic and at times deadly anti-racism and police brutality protests in Oregon’s largest city in the months following the death of George Floyd in May.
“Donald Trump has made my job a hell of a lot harder since he started talking about Portland, but I never thought he'd try to turn my wife against me!” he tweeted.
Trump’s iron-fisted handling of Portland’s protests has been a point of contention between local leaders and the federal government. The Trump administration deployed federal agents to the city in July to quell nightly demonstrations against police brutality, employing the use of physical violence, pepper spray, tear gas and other non-lethal means. He has also used the city as an example of the disorder taking place in Democratic-run cities around the country. Reese and many other Oregon leaders condemned the move.
“The actions by out-of-state federal agents last weekend failed to display good decision-making and sound tactical judgment,” Reese said in a statement in July. “The use of force did not appear proportional to the actions of the demonstrators.”
Even prior to the federal occupation of Portland, Reese wasn’t afraid to criticize close associates of the president and embrace platforms touted by Democrats. While running for his seat in 2016 and in his re-election campaign the following year, Reese supported the policy of investing in mental health services and creating sanctuary cities and opposed the use of local law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration, according to Portland’s Willamette Week. He even took to Twitter to criticize immigration policies proposed by former Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
During the debate, Trump repeatedly used Portland’s troubled summer to again stoke the idea that Democrats are at fault for the demonstrations seen around the country and painting them as a radical, destructive movement.
“Why don’t you say the words law enforcement," Trump asked Biden at one point. "Because if they called us in Portland, we would put out that fire in a half an hour, but they won’t do it because they’re run by radical left Democrats."