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Bill Barr contradicts Trump on his move to the WH bunker
01:49 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Attorney General William Barr jabbed back at Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser in a letter on Tuesday, saying federal law enforcement and National Guard troops were necessary in the city because the unrest had hit unprecedented and dangerous levels in the nation’s capital.

“The television footage of these events — viewed by people across the Nation and around the world — conveyed the impression that the United States was on the brink of losing control of its capital city,” Barr wrote of the protests in DC that followed the police killing of George Floyd late last month in Minneapolis.

The missive was a response to a letter Bowser had sent on Friday to President Donald Trump and other administration officials requesting the withdrawal of federal law enforcement and military personnel from the city. And on Monday, Bowser told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” that the White House “has a lot to answer for” following the week of increased military presence and tension in Washington.

CNN has reached out to Bowser’s office for comment on Barr’s letter.

Bowser’s chief of staff, John Falcicchio, slammed the letter as “revisionist” in a tweet later Tuesday, asserting that it “fails to mention examples of incitement” by the Trump administration and that “deployment of federal assets was not coordinated with nor requested by DC.”

Last week, Trump declared himself “your President of law and order” and vowed to return order to American streets using the military if widespread unrest weren’t otherwise quelled. Roughly 5,000 National Guard troops had been called to patrol Washington as protesters flooded the streets to demonstrate against racial injustice and police brutality.

Trump said Sunday that he had ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from the city after days of peaceful protests.

Barr said in his letter Tuesday that certain federal law enforcement agencies – including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and some officials from the Department of Homeland Security – had been granted additional policing powers amid the protests, and he defended the move to deploy the federal and military forces in DC as a “temporary response to an escalating security crisis.”

“Surely you understand that the President could not stand idly by when unrest at the seat of the federal government threatened the safety of federal law enforcement officers and the operations of the United States government,” Barr wrote.

“Let me assure you that the President shares your interest in returning to a situation where such additional forces are unnecessary to maintain law and order in the District,” he added.

Barr has repeatedly defended the actions of federal law enforcement officers during the protests. He said during an interview Sunday that the officers who forcefully cleared peaceful protesters in Washington last week did so because the Park Police wanted a larger security perimeter around the White House – not to aid the White House in staging Trump’s subsequent photo opportunity with a Bible at the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Barr’s comments Tuesday coincided with the DC Council unanimously passing an emergency bill to overhaul policing in the district, including measures that ban the use of tear gas and rubber bullets and prohibit the hiring of officers who were fired from other police departments.

The legislation passed on Tuesday prohibits DC police from using chemicals such as tear gas and pepper spray on protesters, as well as “less-lethal projectiles” like rubber bullets and stun grenades. The bill also prevents the Metropolitan Police Department from hiring law enforcement officers who were fired from policing jobs in other jurisdictions or who resigned ahead of pending disciplinary action or termination.

This story has been updated with comments from John Falcicchio.

CNN’s Adrienne Winston, Paul LeBlanc and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.