USA TODAY US Edition
Report: Cops didn’t clear Lafayette Park for Trump
WASHINGTON – A government report concludes that federal police did not clear protesters from Lafayette Park near the White House last summer so President Donald Trump could walk to a nearby church for a photo op.
The report, released Wednesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general, says U.S. Park Police and the U.S. Secret Service determined it was necessary to remove protesters from the area in and around the park last June 1, so contractors could install security fencing.
Federal police didn’t learn of Trump’s plans to walk through the park and examine damage from a fire at St. John’s Episcopal Church until mid- to late afternoon – hours after they had begun planning for the security fencing and the contractor had arrived in the park, the report says.
“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,” the report said.
Federal and military police clashed with protesters and drove them out of the park and nearby streets on June 1 shortly before Trump walked through the park and stood in front of St. John’s to hold up a Bible.
Police used pepper spray and other chemical irritants to clear protesters, who had filled the area for days after George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.
Shortly after the report was released, Trump issued a statement thanking the inspector general “for completely and totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!”