No, Trump Didn’t Clear Protestors in Lafayette Park Near White House for Church Photo Op, Says IG

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America via (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en) Wikimedia Commons

Homeland Security Analysis – Yet another false anti-Trump narrative falls by the wayside, after an in-depth Inspector General report proves the story totally wrong. One of the bigger stories of the BLM/Antifa “summer of love” involved the violent riots outside the White House on the evening of May 31 that I witnessed in person, and wrote about, hereherehere, and here, but were misreported by most of the media.

The rioting on the evening of May 31 was extremely violent, with BLM/Antifa rioters attacking police, launching incendiary fireworks, and throwing Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at police lines just yards from the White House fence, and burning buildings, cars, and storefronts all around Lafayette Square.

The situation became so serious that the Secret Service felt compelled to take President Trump into the secure underground bunker beneath the White House. The violence in and around the park on May 31 also prompted D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced a 7 p.m. curfew for the next day, June 1.

Part of misreporting of these riots included the story that President Trump ordered federal officers, including the Park Police, to tear gas and disperse ‘peaceful protesters’ in the morning of June 1, to clear a path for him to later cross the street for the infamous Bible-holding photo op in front of the small iconic yellow St John’s Episcopal Church.

That church was nearly burned down by rioters a few hours earlier, but the false Trump story dominated the news cycle for days.

The New York Times headline saidProtesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church, NPR wrote Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op. And ABC News declared: Trump calls tear gas reports ‘fake news,’ but protesters’ eyes burned just the same. 

Even former Trump Defense Secretary Jim Mattis climbed aboard the false Trump-bashing train, which I denounced in my piece Former Defense Secretary Mattis and Other Generals Wrong on Trump – White House Was Under Siege.

However, now, months after President Trump has left office, the true story finally comes out. The Park Police, operating under the US Department of the Interior, did not clear the park for Trump’s photo op. Instead, it did so as part of a plan developed days earlier with the Secret Service to expand the security perimeter beyond the park to better protect the White House. Something I noted in my initial analysis at the time.

According to the Washington Post:

When the U.S. Park Police led law enforcement officers into a crowd of mostly peaceful protesters outside Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020, including officers equipped with chemical irritants and officers on horseback, they did so as part of a plan made days earlier to build a fence around the park to protect officers, not to facilitate the visit minutes later by President Donald Trump to a nearby church, an inspector general’s report released Wednesday concluded.

The Post added that:

…the operation arose out of a meeting on May 30, two days earlier, in which the Park Police and Secret Service jointly decided “to establish a more secure perimeter around Lafayette Park” in response to the protests, the report states. A fencing contractor told the investigators that the Secret Service contacted her on May 30 to discuss erecting the fence, that it agreed to do so if police created a safe area for the builders and preferred to do so in daylight.

The Post also notes that despite the misplaced attention on Trump’s federal officers:

D.C. police have acknowledged that its officers used tear gas as the protesters moved toward them, though they were not involved in the initial push away from the park and were not subject to the Park Police directives on use of force. A department spokeswoman said in a statement that officers acted to protect themselves after people threw objects at them, including an “incendiary device” that burned an officer.

Trump issued a statement Wednesday thanking the inspector general for “Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!” The former president said: “our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install anti-scale fencing.”

So, the question now is, when will the major media and those retired anti-Trump generals apologize to Trump, and to those of us who had the story right all along? ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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