A government watchdog confirmed US Park Police did not disperse Black Lives Matter protesters from a park outside the White House in order to let then-president Donald Trump pose for a photo op during last summer’s racial unrest.
In a report released Wednesday, the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that park police removed protesters at Lafayette Park so contractors could build anti-scale fencing. Police scheduled ‘the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential presidential visit to the park.’
After law enforcement cleared protesters from the area, Trump walked from the White House to the outside of St John’s Episcopal Church, where he posed for photos with a Bible. His visit came a day after protesters set fire to the church’s nursery and basement.
‘The 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,’ Inspector General Mark Greenblatt wrote in a statement upon the report’s release. ‘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.’
Senior Democrats — including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — criticized Trump for the incident during the 2020 election, alleging he used the two-century-old church and Bible for political purposes.
‘When Americans peacefully protested outside the White House, this president tear-gassed them for a photo-op,” Biden tweeted 24 hours after the protests.
‘Donald Trump just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op,’ Harris said hours after protesters were cleared from Lafayette.
On June 12, 2020, the Biden campaign released an ad claiming Trump ‘looks too weak, so he has tear gas and flash grenades used on peaceful protesters just for a photo op.’
Trump celebrated the report on Wednesday and thanked the inspector general for ‘exonerating’ him with a ‘professionally written report.’
‘Our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install anti-scale fencing to protect from antifa rioters, radical BLM protesters and other violent demonstrators who are causing chaos and death to our cities,’ said Trump.
The report noted USPP failed to provide loud enough dispersal warnings for everyone to hear and did not tell protesters where to exit before the US Secret Service began clearing the park. Moreover, the USSS deployed before the USPP sent out dispersal warnings.
Donald Trump Jr took the inspector general’s report as an opportunity to attack ‘corporate media’ institutions.
‘The corporate media invented a fake narrative and spread it like wildfire, despite having zero evidence to back it up,’ Trump Jr told The Spectator. ‘They did that to damage Donald Trump politically and now that it’s been proven to be a lie, we aren’t seeing any media mea culpa because deep down, they’re all proud of what they did.’
‘This is exactly why poll after poll shows that the media is now one of the least trusted institutions in the country,’ he added. ‘They have no one to blame for that but themselves.’
Some media personalities did not agree with Greenblatt’s conclusions. On Thursday, CNN anchor Jim Acosta claimed the inspector general’s report ‘did not speak to senior White House officials, they did not speak to the Secret Service, so this certainly raises more questions.’
‘I have to say, when I read through this report, it sounded as if this inspector general was auditioning to become the inspector general at Mar-a-Lago because this is almost a whitewash of what occurred on June 1,’ Acosta declared.
According to the report, before Trump exited the White House, the Park Police operations commander said then-attorney general Bill Barr ‘asked him, “Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out?”‘
‘He said he replied to the attorney general, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and then hung his head and walked away.’