WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A US government watchdog found that US Park Police dispersed the protesters “several hours” before knowing that former President Donald Trump would take a visit at the St. John’s Church last summer.
- The report recommended that authorities should enforce more precise plans in dispersing crowds and better coordination with fellow government agencies.
- Trump called the report an “exoneration.”
Federal police did not disperse protesters in Lafayette Park last summer so former President Donald Trump can safely go to the St. John’s Church and have a photo op ━ this is the conclusion of a US government watchdog report released on Wednesday.
The report found that the US Park Police started enforcing the fencing plan “several hours” before becoming aware that Trump would visit the park which happened later the same day.
“We found that the USPP had the authority and discretion to clear Lafayette Park and the surrounding areas on June 1,” the group wrote in the report summary. “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.”
Given the findings, the watchdog concluded that the US Park Police should implement more concrete strategies in dispersing protesters, and better teamwork with other federal agencies.
House Democrats decried the report, condemning federal agents for using unnecessary force to clear out the demonstrators.
“I come away from this report skeptical of the version presented here,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-CA.) said in a statement.
“The Lafayette Square crackdown was played on repeat on televisions around the world and raised serious questions about why heavily armed law enforcement attacked peaceful civilians practicing their constitutional rights,” Grijalva said. “Not only does this report not answer those questions, it doesn’t even seem to acknowledge them.”
In a statement, the ex-president described the report as an “exoneration.”
“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,” Trump said.
Previously, the US Interior Department’s inspector general reported that the Park Police brutally scattered the protesters within Lafayette Park with a plan to install fencing to block people.