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Trump attacks Portland mayor during his presser, mayor hits back
02:27 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Portland’s fire department has a message for President Donald Trump: the whole city is not on fire.

At a Monday news conference, Trump claimed that protests in Portland have been so damaging that “the entire city is ablaze all the time.”

Facts First: This is not even close to true.

“WE ARE NOT ABLAZE IN PORTLAND,” Lt. Rich Chatman, a spokesman for Portland Fire & Rescue, said in a text message to CNN on Monday night. “There is a very isolated pocket of demonstrations that have involved fire, none of which has been substantial enough to need more than 1 fire engine.”

There have been protests in Portland every night since late May, when they broke out following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police. Some of them have featured vandalism and violence.

These problems have largely been confined to a small area in the immediate vicinity of a federal courthouse. Most Portland residents have continued to go about their lives in peace even as some conservative media outlets have depicted large swaths of the city as under siege.

Chatman said there have been fires set “just about every night” of the protests. He said most of the fires, though, have involved contents “inside dumpsters or trash cans and away from any structures.” He said there have also been “a handful of incidents that involve direct attempts at starting a building fire,” which he said have been worrisome, but he added, “I would like to emphasize again: this is a small group of demonstrators.”

Regardless, Trump’s claim about the “entire city” was wildly inaccurate. CNN law enforcement correspondent Josh Campbell, a former FBI supervisory special agent who is reporting on the ground in Portland, tweeted that it is a “100% flat out lie.”

On Monday, Campbell said he went to Starbucks, shopped at a mall, ate at a food truck and watched a bike tour roll down the street past his downtown hotel. Portland residents responded to Campbell’s tweet about Trump’s claim with photos showing tranquil scenes in the city.

As Trump tries to convince voters that Democratic opponent Joe Biden is a radical, he has made a concerted effort to depict cities led by Democratic mayors as dangerous.

In a Monday letter, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf issued a stern warning to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, saying that the federal government “will have no choice but to protect our American citizens” if unrest continues. Wolf painted a dire picture of lawlessness in the city, saying, “Businesses remain shuttered and Portlanders are held hostage by the daily violence that has gripped the city with no end in sight.”

Trump made another false claim about Portland and fire in a Fox News interview that aired Monday night. Without elaboration, he told host Laura Ingraham that “Portland’s been burning for many years – for decades, it’s been burning.”

Chatman called this “ridiculous.”