Former President Donald Trump says he has been exonerated after Inspector General’s report finds U.S. Park Police did not clear Lafayette Park for the infamous Bible photo op. They were already clearing the area to install new fencing.
Fake news fails again. Everyone read it back in early June, 2020. The headlines claimed then-President Donald Trump sent in police to clear out Lafayette Square of peaceful protesters so that he could stand outside of damaged St. John’s Church for a photo-op, holding a Bible. The night before, protesters set the church on fire.
A June 1, 2020, headline from NPR stated: “Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op.”
U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops were accused of using tear gas to clear nonviolent protesters away because “President Trump wanted to walk from the White House through the park to the Episcopal church” so he could pose “outside the church” and hold “up a Bible.”
Even then-candidate Joe Biden jumped on the bandwagon, tweeting: “He’s using the American military against the American people. He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo…”
At the time, Trump refuted the use of on Fox Radio. The
“No one was tear-gassed,” then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at the time, ABC reported in June 2020. “They used the minimal force that they could to ensure that that situation was safe, to ensure St. John’s Church would not burn a second night in a row.”
“We now know through the U.S. Park Police that neither they, nor any of their law enforcement partners, used tear gas to quell rising violence,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director, also said at the time.
This week, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released its findings of a probe into law enforcement’s actions on June 1, 2020. Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt’s report examined the events in which U.S. Park Police cleared clear Lafayette Park and the nearby area of protesters. The probe found that Police already had begun planning to clear the area to put up new fencing, and only learned of his interest in surveying the site hours later, ABC reported, according to the findings of the watchdog report.
The report found communications between agencies was poor. It stated that dispersal warnings were ineffective and “may have contributed to confusion during the operation and the use of tactics that appeared inconsistent” with initial plans.
Additionally, the report stated that Bureau of Prisons officers on the scene used pepper spray against protestors and that Metropolitan Police Officers used tear gas, despite orders from Park Police not to do so.
The Inspector General’s office concluded ark Police officers acted within their authority to begin clearing Lafayette Square and nearby before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew.
On Wednesday, that former President Donald Trump issued the following statement:
“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!” Trump said the statement, The Hill reported.
“As we have said all along, and it was backed up in today’s highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing to protect from Antifa rioters, radical BLM protestors, and other violent demonstrators,” Trump added.