Senate Republicans demand DOJ answers on investigation of acclaimed U.S. Marshals

These Marshals "have never been reprimanded for their actions in Portland" until now, the senators explained.
Federal police officers, Portland, Oregon, July 20, 2020

Seven top-ranking Republican senators on Tuesday pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland to answer why three deputy U.S. Marshals (DUSMs) were placed on limited duty and are under investigation for their responses to a riot in Portland.

The senators wrote in a letter to the Department of Justice head that his agency had 20 months to punish the Marshals but only did so after Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in January threatened to block President Joe Biden's Justice nominees because the department did not pay for the Marshals' defense in a civil lawsuit related to the riots.

"According to information that we’ve been given, these DUSMs have never been reprimanded for their actions in Portland; to the contrary, they received the Director’s Award [and] received outstanding or excellent evaluations in 2020," wrote Sens. Cotton, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

"Accordingly, the timing of this decision is inherently suspect, appears politically-motivated, and smacks of retaliation," they added.

Biden Department of Justice Attorneys Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke voiced their support for the Portland protestors in July 2020. The Republican senators said this could pose a conflict of interest with the appointees' involvement in any decision relating to the Marshals, and they asked Garland whether Gupta and Clark had been recused from such matters.

The senators also asked Garland to "provide all communications and any internal documents regarding the decision to place these DUSMs on limited duty and under investigation" and to "provide all communications and any internal documents regarding the decision of whether or not to pay for civil representation for all four DUSMs who had not been provided payment for counsel."