“It’s just outrageous and it’s reckless,” Morgan said Saturday of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s complaints about his agents.
Wheeler has accused the administration of sending in troops as part of a political strategy that ultimately “ratcheted up the tension on our streets.”
“The argument that the mere presence of federal officers and agents causes violence, that is outrageous and it’s ridiculous, and I believe that most American people do not believe that,” Morgan said on “Cavuto Live.”
“What’s happening right now are absolute criminals. They are willfully organizing, planning and coordinating, and preparing themselves and bringing weapons to these areas with the intent to destroy federal property and harm federal agents and officers. That is criminal and that cannot be justified,” he added.
On Friday, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams requested an investigation into Department of Homeland Security personnel without identification badges who have been caught on video arresting protesters and putting them in unmarked SUVs.
Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation also called on the Justice Department and DHS offices of Inspector General to investigate.
When Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked about officers not identifying themselves, Morgan called the allegation a “lie.” He also dismissed the concerns over unmarked vehicles, arguing that it’s a “standard tactic” for law enforcement.
“Right now, in situations like this, it’s standard procedure — it’s a standard tactic for law enforcement officers to use unmarked cars. … Neil, it’s been on your show, where marked vehicles have actually been attacked by criminals, so it just makes sense for the safety of the officers and agents as well as the protesters,” he said.
“They go out, they have reasonable suspicion or probable cause that these individuals have committed a federal crime by destroying federal property, or intentionally trying to physically harm a federal agent or officer, and they are going out and they are absolutely trying to apprehend those individuals,” Morgan added.
“That’s what they should be doing as to ensure law and order. These are criminals — they should be held responsible. As the acting commissioner, I support the men and women 100 percent in what they’re doing. These are not weird tactics. These are absolutely necessary tactics to hold these criminals responsible for criminal behavior.”
His comments echoed those of Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who tweeted Friday, “Our men and women in uniform are patriots. We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”
Morgan also told Cavuto that his agency had credible intelligence that protesters sought to destroy federal property. “They did just that — they attacked, they went in, they broke windows, broke down doors. They tried to enter the building and harm a federal officer,” he said.
Morgan’s comments clashed with those from Oregon politicians like U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who suggested that the administration was acting like an “authoritarian” government.
In a statement, Merkley accused officers of arresting protesters without justification.
“First, they are deploying paramilitary forces with no identification indicating who they are or who they work for. Second, these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification,” he said.
“Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans. We demand not only that these acts end, but also that they remove their forces immediately from our state. Given the egregious nature of the violations against Oregonians, we are demanding full investigations by them.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.