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MSNBC’s Brian Williams Whacks Federal Agents as ‘Jackbooted Thugs,’ Invokes Mussolini

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Twenty-five years ago, former president George H.W. Bush quit the National Rifle Association over a fundraising letter which referred to federal law enforcement as “jackbooted thugs.” This delighted the media elites then. The script has flipped. Now the term is welcomed by left-wing media outlets.

Several times this week, MSNBC host Brian Williams has used his primetime show The 11th Hour to hype Twitter comments by never-Trumper MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt in which the bitter former Republican slammed federal agents in Portland as “jackbooted thugs” and “stormtroopers.”

On Wednesday’s show, the MSNBC host even had Schmidt on as a guest and gave him a platform to further bash federal agents, with Williams provocatively invoking Benito Mussolini’s Italy.

After first quoting Schmidt during a segment on  his Monday’s show, Williams revisited the issue on Tuesday and quoted the liberal MSNBC analyst for a second time as he fretted over the actions of federal agents. After a soundbite of Oregon Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum complaining about their actions in Portland, Williams intoned:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: A warning tonight for the rest of the country from the attorney general of Oregon. … And when we say “feds,” what we mean is no name tags, not easily identifiable, militarized, camo-wearing, quasi-secret police force that our friend Steve Schmidt has called “federal stormtroopers” and “jackbooted thugs.” Oregon is demanding the feds stop detaining their citizens — in some cases, thrusting them into unmarked vehicles without telling why they’re being arrested.

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But, on Monday’s New Day show on CNN, the acting assistant secretary for Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli, asserted that federal agents do, in fact, identify themselves to suspects they detain, but are not required to make such identification to bystanders who are not being detained.

He also argued that there is nothing untoward about using unmarked vehicles, which are used by many law enforcement agencies, as they work to defend the federal courthouse in Portland.

On Wednesday, Williams brought up the issue again as he had Schmidt as a guest and quoted his provocative comments against federal agents for a third time:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And Steve Schmidt, because of your quotes on this topic, I’m going to begin with you. Overseas, if we saw these pictures, we’d call it something like a military junta — under a Mussolini or a Pinochet, we would make nothing of it — it would just be a Wednesday. However, you’ve called these men and women “jackbooted thugs” — you’ve called them “stormtroopers.”

The MSNBC host then invoked the “caravan” of would-be illegal immigrants that President Donald Trump shined attention on during 2018 — which liberals often dismissed as “imaginary” — as he finished his opening question:

WILLIAMS: Is this the caravan of this election cycle? This coupled with the “law and order” message, coupled with Meadows and Pence and Trump, all saying some version of “Here will be your country under Biden — you are not safe — you are not going to be safe in the suburbs.” Does that justify, in their minds, camouflaged, without name markings or identifications, some unit badging, camouflaged, militarized federal troops?

Regarding his use of the expression “law and order,” just a couple of weeks ago, Williams had pushed the liberal trope that it is racist for Republicans to call for “law and order” even though Democrats also have a history of doing so.

In his response, Schmidt blamed President Trump and federal law enforcement for causing the violence that the agents were sent to combat. The disgruntled former Republican began his response:

STEVE SCHMIDT: The President of the United States is a constitutional vandal and a political arsonist. His campaign is failing — he’s on track to lose to Vice President Biden, and he has loosed violence in America’s cities at an epic level. What we’re seeing is illiberal, it is illegal, and it is dangerous. When you see these men dressed in those uniforms, it is hard to believe we’re looking at scenes from the United States of America in 2020.

This is all very real. The caravan was pretend — it was made up — it was a fiction deployed on Fox News and on right-wing state Trump media — whatever you prefer to call it — but it was imaginary. This is very real — the violence is real — the broken bones are real — the injuries are real.

Schmidt soon accused the federal agents of “looking for a brawl” and hyperbolically warned that democracy in the U.S. is in danger:

They’re there looking for a fight, looking for a brawl. These men — as has been reported — have no training for the mission. This is thuggery — it’s federal thuggery — and it’s frightening. Ronald Reagan said that freedom is only one generation away ever from being vanquished. And this should scare the hell out of every American.

As he said goodbye to his liberal guests, right after Schmidt had concluded by deriding President Trump as a “fool,” Williams wallowed in self-congratulation: “And we’ll let our viewers in on an old TV secret. If you want to have a smart conversation, invite smart people. And we did tonight.”

Wednesday’s episode of The 11th Hour with Brian Williams was sponsored by Pet Smart and Enterprise. Their contact information is linked.

Below is a transcript of relevant clips from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, July 20-22, 2020:

MSNBC

The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Monday, July 20, 2020

11:29 p.m. Eastern

BRIAN WILLIAMS (before commercial break): Our friend Steve Schmidt calls them “federal stormtroopers” and “jackbooted thugs.” The President suggests that the militarized show of force in Portland, Oregon, could be coming soon near you. A former four-star U.S. Army general on what some local lawmakers warn is an unwarranted military invasion by these guys when we come back.

(…)

Tuesday, July 21

11:36 p.m.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ELLEN ROSENBLUM (D-OR): Every American needs to be concerned about what’s happening right here in Portland because it’s unquestionably coming to your city. It’s like a road show on the part of our President, and he’s using Portland as his test case

BRIAN WILLIAMS: A warning tonight for the rest of the country from the attorney general of Oregon. She filed a second lawsuit to force the removal of those feds from the streets of Portland. And when we say “feds,” what we mean is no name tags, not easily identifiable, militarized, camo-wearing, quasi-secret police force that our friend Steve Schmidt has called “federal stormtroopers” and “jackbooted thugs.” Oregon is demanding the feds stop detaining their citizens — in some cases, thrusting them into unmarked vehicles without telling why they’re being arrested.

(…)

Wednesday, July 22

11:25 p.m.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And Steve Schmidt, because of your quotes on this topic, I’m going to begin with you. Overseas, if we saw these pictures, we’d call it something like a military junta — under a Mussolini or a Pinochet, we would make nothing of it — it would just be a Wednesday. However, you’ve called these men and women “jackbooted thugs” — you’ve called them “stormtroopers.”

Here’s the question: Is this the caravan of this election cycle? This coupled with the “law and order” message, coupled with Meadows and Pence and Trump, all saying some version of “Here will be your country under Biden — you are not safe — you are not going to be safe in th suburbs.” Does that justify, in their minds, camouflaged, without name markings or identifications, some unit badging, camouflaged, militarized federal troops?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Brian, good evening. The President of the United States is a constitutional vandal and a political arsonist. His campaign is failing — he’s on track to lose to Vice President Biden, and he has loosed violence in America’s cities at an epic level. What we’re seeing is illiberal, it is illegal, and it is dangerous. When you see these men dressed in those uniforms, it is hard to believe we’re looking at scenes from the United States of America in 2020.

This is all very real. The caravan was pretend — it was made up — it was a fiction deployed on Fox News and on right-wing state Trump media — whatever you prefer to call it — but it was imaginary. This is very real — the violence is real — the broken bones are real — the injuries are real.

And I think it’s important that, when Donald Trump loses this election, one of the other things that President Biden should do immediately is we should never, ever see again in this country — federal officers of any type wearing camouflage uniforms like that. This militarized presence is not something that you see in a healthy democracy. These men are causing chaos in these cities.

At the end, when you see assaults being made on federal buildings — on a federal courthouse — vandalism — it would be totally appropriate for federal officers — for marshals deployed in a perimeter around the building to secure federal property — but they’re there looking for a fight, looking for a brawl. These men — as has been reported — have no training for the mission. This is thuggery — it’s federal thuggery — and it’s frightening.

Ronald Reagan said that freedom is only one generation away ever from being vanquished. And this should scare the hell out of every American.





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