If that calm continues, there will inevitably be another fight over what prompted it. Federal officials say their overwhelming force has made a difference. District officials say it is peaceful protesters — there were few arrests in the city on Tuesday and none Wednesday — who have prevented the convergence of so many law enforcement agencies from turning dangerous.
“The people saved us from this confusion,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District but has no voting power in Congress.
Karl Racine, the Washington district attorney, objected to any appearance in Mr. Barr’s comments on Thursday that the District was on board with the deployment of federal officers to the city’s streets. “That simply is not the case,” Mr. Racine said.
“What the White House doesn’t want people to see is the multigenerational, multiracial, multiethnic, multigeographic, overwhelmingly peaceful nature of these protests,” Mr. Racine said. “This isn’t a few protests. This is a movement that believes justice should be for all; that policing should be fair and not disproportionately harsher for some.”
Mr. Racine said he contacted the dozen-plus states that had been asked to send national guard forces to the District, and that none of them could recall that the Trump administration cited any legal basis for the request. The D.C. National Guard has been in the city, too, the only force the mayor has requested. But under Home Rule, she didn’t have the power to deploy them herself; only the president can do that.
Mr. Racine said in a letter to Mr. Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that he was reviewing the legality of the federal government’s decision to ask out-of-state national guardsmen and federal law enforcement entities, including the Bureau of Prisons, to police Washington’s streets.
“We are seeking information regarding the legal authority for these entities’ presence in the District and their actions,” Mr. Racine wrote.