Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania and first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, decried President Trump's vow to send federal agents to patrol American cities including Philadelphia.
Ridge, a Republican who served two terms as governor, told Michael Smerconish on his SiriusXM radio program that the Department of Homeland Security was not established to be Trump's "personal militia."
"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.
Federal agents have been operating in Portland, Oregon, amid unrest and protests that has included clashes between protesters and officers outside the city's federal courthouse. Portland's mayor as well as Oregon's attorney general and governor have told Trump they don't want or need the federal help. A federal judge is hearing arguments Wednesday around a lawsuit filed by the state to restrain arrests by federal agents.
On Monday, Trump leaned in to expanding federal intervention in Democratic-led cities despite a lack of requests for help.
“I’m going to do something, that I can tell you,” Trump said. “Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore and all of these – Oakland is in a mess, we are not going to let this happen in the country, all run by liberal Democrats.”
Under a Department of Justice program called Operation Legend, the Trump Administration sent hundreds of agents to Kansas City, Missouri, to quell unrest after a boy was killed there. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said a surge of feds will also report to Chicago and Albuquerque.
Chicago's mayor, Lori Lightfoot, initially rejected the uninvited advance, but said she's reached an agreement with her federal counterparts ensuring they will bring "actual leadership" and not "dictatorship.
Speaking to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Trump assured him that he would reach out before sending federal agents to New York City.
Trump's comments on potentially sending federal agents to Philadelphia was met with ire from city leadership.
“That the White House seeks to impose federal involvement in this way, after months of abrogating its responsibility to lead a federal response to COVID-19, is both ironic and offensive. While the City of Philadelphia has not received any formal notification that federal agents will be sent here, we would use all available means to resist such a wrong-headed effort and abuse of power," Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, said.
Ridge echoed Kenney's comments during his interview on The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM.
"Had I been governor even now, I would welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime and lawlessness in any of the cities, but I would tell you Michael, it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to an unilateral, uninvited intervention in one of my cities," Ridge said.
Ridge also said he believes such a decision sends a bad message globally to see the federal government deploy agents to cities unilaterally.
Ridge's full interview with Smerconish is below: