Trump's 'political theater' in Portland is 'a violation of the Constitution': Ex-prosecutor
Portland protests (MSNBC)

Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade called out President Donald Trump's federal crackdown on protests as unconstitutional.

The MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan argued that Homeland Security agents did have the legal justification to protect federal property, but McQuade told "Morning Joe" they were overstepping their constitutional authority.

"They have the authority to protect federal property from violence or assault on federal officers, but one of the allegations in the lawsuit filed by the attorney general of Oregon is agents are then going out on the streets and arresting people without probable cause," McQuade said. "That's a violation of the Constitution."

That assault on civil rights also damaged law enforcement agencies, which rely on the consent of the public to gain their authority, McQuade said.

"We're hearing William Barr talk about sending Department of Justice agents into cities like Chicago and now Albuquerque, to surge and protect the cities from violence," McQuade said. "Ordinarily that kind of activity is welcome by cities. It's done in coordination with local law enforcement -- I've seen it done in Detroit, but it's done with the greatest respect of local law enforcement to say how can we help? Can we supplement your resources? What do you need?"

Trump is corrupting law enforcement agencies, endangering public safety and attacking constitutional rights in an apparent effort to make himself look strong as his re-election campaign falters, McQuade said.

"Instead, sending people in without insignias, with military fatigues, the way it's been done in Portland, most cities are resisting this because it's seen as political theatre in an effort to prop up President Trump's re-election campaign, as opposed to a genuine effort to help people in local communities," she said.