Former President Donald Trump said that he has now been exonerated for the claim that his administration forcefully cleared out a group of protestors in a D.C. park so that the president could simply have a photo opportunity.
There is now a report from the United States Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General which released findings of a review of law enforcement’s actions on June 1st of last year. On that day, police removed protestors from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. just before then-President Donald Trump’s walked through the area to St. John’s Church. This building was damaged after protesters set it on fire.
The probe into this event discovered that authorities made the decision to clear out the park in order to install fencing necessary because of the ongoing rioting in the area following the death of George Floyd. It was not for the purpose of allowing the president a photo op as many opponents of Trump claimed at the time.
Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt’s findings explain that on June 1, 2020, the Secret Service and United States Park Police decided to clear protesters from Lafayette Park in order to allow a contractor to install fencing the Secret Service obtained that morning. Their intent was to make the perimeter around the square more secure. There had already been approximately 49 USPP officers injured while policing the protests” in the area just from May 30 to 31.
Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt said they “had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park”.
“We found that the USPP had the authority and discretion to clear Lafayette Park and the surrounding areas on June 1,” the report revealed, adding, “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.”
This report is certainly going to surprise many opponents of the former president. There has been countless criticisms that clearing the protestors was the work of Trump or his attorney general. They maintained that all this was done so that Trump could stand in front of the church holding a bible.
In fact, that scenario is the core of a federal lawsuit by Black Lives Matter against the Justice Department. Hopefully, with this new information, the suit will be dismissed.
The former president responded to the report of the Inspector General saying, “Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!”
He also said, “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.”
I wonder if we will hear from one of the most vocal accusers of Trump who said he was responsible for clearing the park for a photo op. That accuser was then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
On the very day of the park clearing, Biden tweeted of Trump, “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.”
Maybe he will backtrack on his quick judgment…but probably not.