Former Bush DHS secretary rips Trump for treating department like 'the president's personal militia'

Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.
(Image credit: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for FEHSF)

America's first secretary of homeland security thinks his former department has gotten its mission twisted.

The Trump administration has sent federal agents into Portland, Oregon, and has suggested sending them to other cities in what it claims is an attempt to quell violent protests there. But Tom Ridge, a former two-term Republican governor of Pennsylvania who former President George W. Bush tapped as the first DHS head, told Sirius XM host Michael Smerconish on Tuesday that's not what DHS is meant to do.

"The department was established to protect America from the ever-present threat of global terrorism. It was not established to be the president’s personal militia," Ridge said, alluding to the department's creation after the 9/11 attacks. Ridge did say he would "welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime or lawlessness in the cities" if he were governor. But "it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to an uninvited, unilateral intervention into one of my cities," he added, specifically calling out how the federal authorities were unwelcome in Portland.

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Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has defended the agents by saying they were stopping "violent extremists" from destroying property. But the agents, some of them unmarked, have reportedly arrested people off the streets in Portland even if they aren't near federal property or seemingly doing anything criminal.

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