Trump claims exoneration in Lafayette Square clearing out

President Donald Trump walks in Lafayette Park to visit outside St. John's Church across from the White House in Washington. An internal investigation has determined that the decision to clear racial justice pro

Police did not clear Lafayette Square so Trump could pose for photo with the Bible, IG says

"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", Trump wrote.

"The USPP planned to implement the operation as soon as the fencing materials and sufficient law enforcement officers arrived at the park".

The report ultimately determined that Trump's plans to visit the park did not influence the officers' decision to clear it.

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"We did not clear the park for the photo op", acting Chief Gregory Monahan told the House Committee on Natural Resources in a hearing created to examine the violent and subsequently contentious events in Lafayette Square two months ago. Once the crowd was dispersed, Trump made his way through the square and posed with a Bible in his right hand in front of the St. John's Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by a fire that was intentionally set the night earlier.

"The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the [U.S. Park Police] cleared the park to allow the president to survey the damage and walk to St. John's Church", the report says.

"Protesters in the crowd recognized the Attorney General and began shouting at him", the investigation reported. "USPP and open-source video evidence we reviewed showed at least one [Bureau of Prisons] officer shooting pepper balls toward H Street from inside Lafayette Park but did not show protesters breaching the bike-rack fence line".

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The report from Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt, however, said that the area was cleared to allow contractors to install special anti-scale fencing to further secure the perimeter around the park.

While the report found the decision to clear protesters justified, it also found issues with the manner in which it was carried out.

Former President Trump claimed exoneration after a watchdog report on Wednesday determined that his plans to walk through Lafayette Square did not influence officers' decisions to clear protesters out of the park a year ago. Rather, the investigation found that poor communication between agencies and ineffective dispersal warnings "may have contributed to confusion during the operation and the use of tactics that appeared inconsistent". He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. "Similar to May 29, however, acts of violence increased in the late afternoon and evenings", stated the report.

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The Park Police official said he hadn't known until then that Trump would be entering the park that evening.

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