The Park Police did not clear protesters outside the White House last summer to make way for President Donald Trump’s photo opportunity, according to a new report released by the Interior Department’s inspector general on Wednesday.
The report determined that Park Police were given permission to clear the park long before anyone even knew the former president had plans to walk over.
Federal law enforcement agents used flash-bangs and other non-lethal crowd control munitions to forcibly removed demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd from the plaza between St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Shortly later, Trump walked across the park to give a speech in front of the fire-damaged church.
Democrats and their corporate media and NeverTrump allies immediately seized on the situation to hammer Trump, accusing him of having peaceful protesters teargassed so he could have a photo-op at the church.
Joe Biden posted a particularly disgraceful, and overwrought tweet that day.
“He’s using the American military against the American people,” the dishonest tweet read. “He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo. For our children, for the very soul of our country, we must defeat him. But I mean it when I say this: we can only do it together.”
He's using the American military against the American people.
He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets.
For a photo.
For our children, for the very soul of our country, we must defeat him. But I mean it when I say this: we can only do it together. https://t.co/G1yE67q9Nz
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 2, 2020
Biden seemed to be basing his comments on a false New York Times report that Trump had directed police and the National Guard to disperse peaceful protesters with flash-bang grenades and to deploy tear gas upon them.
According to the IG investigation, “The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church.”
In reality, the protesters were being cleared so that anti-scale fencing could be installed in the wake of the violent riots of May 30-31, according to the report.
The IG report described the violent lawlessness of the BLM/antifa rioters who not only damaged property, but sent law enforcement officers to the hospital with injuries.
USPP officers reported that some protesters threw projectiles, such as bricks, rocks, caustic liquids, frozen water bottles, glass bottles, lit flares, rental scooters, and fireworks, at law enforcement officials. A DCNG major, who served as the DCNG liaison to the USPP on June 1, told us that “Saturday [May 30] … had been rather violent … [ and] it was riotous” and “Sunday [May 31] … was
what I expected … people throwing bottles, hurling [objects], shooting fireworks … at officers.
Overall, 49 USPP officers were injured during the protests from May 29 to May 31, including one who underwent surgery for his injuries. The Secret Service and the DCNG also reported injuries to their personnel during this time.
Damage to both Federal and private property also occurred during the protests. With respect to Lafayette Park, historic statues were vandalized with graffiti, and on May 31, the park’s comfort
station was set on fire. A fire was also set in the basement at St. John’s Church on May 31. Nearby stores and businesses were looted.
The riots near the White House got so out of control, President Trump had to be taken an underground bunker for safety.
“The evidence we reviewed showed that the (Park Police) cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install anti-scale fencing in response to destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and May 31,” Greenblatt noted.
“Moreover, the evidence established that relevant (Park Police) 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,” the letter continued. “As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the (Park Police) cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.”
The report did find fault with various law enforcement agencies for their lack of communication on the ground at the time.
“Weaknesses in communication and coordination may have contributed to confusion during the operation,” the report noted in part.
The IG also determined Bureau of Prisons officers fired the pepper balls, and that was “inconsistent with the guidance.”
Trump thanked the inspector general for its report in a statement, saying he has been “Completely and Totally” exonerated.
“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!” the former president wrote. “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 who are causing chaos and death to our cities.”
“In this instance, they tried burning down the church the day before the clearing. Fortunately, we were there to stop the fire from spreading beyond the basement—and it was our great honor and privilege to do so. Again, thank you to the Inspector General!” Trump concluded.