July 22, 2020

Wyden to Oppose Nomination of DOJ Official Over Unconstitutional Abuses in Portland

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today announced his opposition to the nomination of Justice Department official Patrick Hovakimian, after Hovakimian refused to answer questions about the federal occupation of Portland, Ore. in a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence open hearing.

“If the line is not drawn in the sand right now, America may be staring down the barrel of martial law in the middle of a presidential election,” Wyden said.

Wyden pressed Hovakimian, the Trump nominee for General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on the legality of the federal government’s authoritarian actions in Wyden’s hometown.

After Hovakimian dodged Wyden’s question, Wyden said, “I believe it is unconstitutional and I believe the country needs government lawyers who aren’t going to use the law as a smokescreen to justify this unconstitutional invasion over the objections of local officials.”

Wyden continued, “My constituents are interested in more than your best wishes. What they want to know is that these forces can’t go wherever they want over the objections of local authorities. That’s what they want.”

Wyden proceeded to push Hovakimian on the legality of unidentified federal forces in unmarked cars seizing and detaining American citizens, as shown in footage from Portland. Hovakimian refused to give a substantial response.

Wyden responded, “That again is ducking the question. These are practices that are going on now over the objection of local officials. And you have equivocated. I consider these practices a massive invasion of the constitutional rights of my constituents. I think that these practices are essentially fascist practices that until recently would’ve been unthinkable in America, and your refusal to condemn what’s going on in my hometown … [is] not consistent with the position to which you’ve been nominated. Mr. Chairman I intend to oppose his nomination.”

Full video of the exchange is available here and below.

Wyden, alongside U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is also pushing to pass legislation to prevent Trump from deploying paramilitary forces into American cities, like Portland.