The U.S. Park Police did not clear protesters from a park outside the White House so President Trump could take a photo-op at a nearby church, an Interior Department inspector general’s reports found.
“[T]he evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day,” Interior Department IG Mark Greenblatt writes with the report’s release Wednesday. “As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.”
Trump walked to St. John’s Church, which had been damaged the day before during protests over racial injustice. As he did, law enforcement violently cleared what had been mostly peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park.
As those scenes unfolded, Trump posed for photographs, holding up a Bible up outside the church.
The report notes that the park police made the decision “to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing in response to destruction of Federal property and injury to officers.”
The report, however, “does not clear law enforcement on use of force and acknowledges problem with its response. … This report does not address allegations of individual use-of-force incidents, as those are the subject of separate inquiries as well as ongoing lawsuits.”
Two of the specified problems it pointed to:
- “the U.S. Secret Service’s deployment before the USPP had begun its dispersal warnings, and
- “the USPP’s failure to provide dispersal warnings that were loud enough for everyone to hear and that told protesters where to exit before the clearing operation began.”
Trump reacted triumphantly to the report, thanking the inspector general in a statement for “Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!”