<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/21/us/politics/trump-portland-federal-agents.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">As Trump Pushes Into Portland, His Campaign Ads Turn Darker</a>  <font color="#6f6f6f">The New York Times</font>

The Trump campaign is spending millions on ads that promote a dark and exaggerated portrayal of Democratic-led cities, a tactic that reinforces his “law and order’’ campaign message.

Federal agents clashed with protesters in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday. President Trump has strained to tie images of unrest in American cities to his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. Credit…Mason Trinca for The New York Times

As President Trump deploys federal agents to Portland, Ore., and threatens to dispatch more to other cities, his re-election campaign is spending millions of dollars on several ominous television ads that promote fear and dovetail with his political message of “law and order.”

The influx of agents in Portland has led to scenes of confrontations and chaos that Mr. Trump and his White House aides have pointed to as they try to burnish a false narrative about Democratic elected officials allowing dangerous protesters to create widespread bedlam.

The Trump campaign is driving home that message with a new ad that tries to tie its dark portrayal of Democratic-led cities to Mr. Trump’s main rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr. — with exaggerated images intended to persuade viewers that lawless anarchy would prevail if Mr. Biden won the presidency. The ad simulates a break-in at the home of an older woman and ends with her being attacked while she waits on hold for a 911 call, as shadowy, dark intruders flicker in the background.

So far, the campaign has spent almost $20 million over the last 20 days on that ad and two other similar ones, more than Mr. Biden has spent on his total television budget in the same time frame, and a relatively large sum for this stage of the race. Though the ads predate the federal actions in Portland, they convey a common theme of lawlessness under Democratic leadership.

The focus of the Trump administration in recent days has been on Portland, where there have been nightly protests for weeks denouncing systemic racism in policing. In the last few days, federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals, traveling in unmarked cars, have swooped protesters off the street without explaining why, in some cases detaining them and in other cases letting them go because they were not actually suspects. The protests have increased in size since the arrival of federal officials.

Mr. Trump’s deployment of federal law enforcement is highly unusual: He is acting in spite of local opposition — city leaders are not asking for help — and his actions go beyond emergency steps taken by some past American leaders like President George H.W. Bush, who sent troops to quell Los Angeles in 1992 at the request of California officials.

In Washington on Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security officials held a news conference for the first time to address the increased federal deployment in Portland, defending the tactics and training of the agents. Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary, said a federal statute allowed the agents to move away from the courthouse that they had been told to defend, to investigate crimes against federal property and officers, even if it resulted in the detaining of a protester.

Another top official, Mark Morgan, disputed claims that the agents lacked adequate insignia, showing reporters a camouflaged ballistic vest labeled “POLICE.” Mr. Wolf also blamed local officials for the unrest in Portland. “I asked the mayor and governor, how long do you plan on having this continue?” Mr. Wolf said. “We stand ready. I’m ready to pull my officers out of there if the violence stops.”

President Trump has focused on Portland but has threatened to deploy federal agents to other cities, including Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The president has said he might next deploy federal agents to Chicago, and has listed other cities where similar enforcement could take place, including New York but also Philadelphia and Detroit, urban centers in two battleground states. White House officials said the deployments had grown out of meetings among administration officials after protests in Washington, D.C., in late May and early June.

The White House has defended the recent measures.

“By any objective standard, the violence, chaos and anarchy in Portland is unacceptable, yet Democrats continue to put politics above peace while this president seeks to restore law and order,” the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said at a briefing on Tuesday morning. She listed an array of items she said protesters had hurled at law enforcement officers.