Portland was the scene of frequent unrest in the summer of 2020, with rioters often targeting the federal courthouse located there along with the federal law enforcement officers who defended it.
Now, some of those officers are being sued, and the Biden administration has decided not to pay for their defense. That doesn’t sit well with Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who is threatening to retaliate by blocking the president’s nominees.
According to Fox News, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund is representing four deputy U.S. Marshals who are facing lawsuits from rioters.
Cotton: Marshals were attacked with “mortar fire, ball bearings, and blinding lasers”
The organization complains that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has told one of the deputy Marshals that it will not be assisting with his legal defense.
“After careful review and consideration of the information currently available, I have determined that representation would not be in the interest of the United States. Accordingly, the request for representation is denied,” the rejection letter was quoted as saying.
That news prompted Cotton to write a letter on Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland warning that he will prevent DOJ nominees from being confirmed until the matter is resolved.
“It has come to my attention that the Department of Justice may not be paying to defend from frivolous lawsuits the Deputy U.S. Marshals who protected the federal courthouse in Portland against the BLM rioters in the summer of 2020,” Cotton wrote.
“These courageous officers were attacked by left-wing street militants with weapons such as mortar fire, ball bearings, and blinding lasers,” the Republican lawmaker continued.
“A refusal to represent these Deputy Marshals would violate the Department’s long-standing practice – not to mention its moral duty – to defend law-enforcement officers when they’re sued for actions in the line of duty.”
Fox News: Cotton “can drag out debate for days or weeks”
Cotton concluded by declaring, “Absent a timely and satisfactory answer I will be compelled to object to Department nominees both in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor.”
Fox News noted that it is unlikely Cotton will be unable to unilaterally prevent nominees from ultimately receiving confirmation.
However, it explained how “a single member can drag out debate for days or weeks on routine nominees that otherwise may be confirmed by unanimous consent.”