On Wednesday, an internal government investigation report found that protestors were not cleared out of Washington D.C.'s Lafayette Park so that then-President Donald Trump could pose for pictures while holding up a Bible.
The 37-page report was released by Interior Department Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt, who revealed that the clearout was done in order to allow a contractor to install "antiscale fencing in response to the destruction of property and injury to officers" that took place two days earlier.
On June 1, 2020, protestors convened nearby in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd until police officers arrived, dispersing the crowd. Trump then was shown walking from the White House to the historic St. John's Church, where he delivered brief remarks and then held up a Bible for a photo op.
As reported by the New York Post, the former president was met with heavy criticism who alleged that his photo op was the reason for the dispersion.
Lee, however, explained that U.S. Park Police officials "had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park."
The report also included an exchange between an unnamed Park Police operations commander and then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who asked: "Are these people still going to be here when POTUS [President of the United States] comes out?"
"The USPP operations commander told us he had not known until then that the President would be coming out of the White House and into Lafayette Park," the report reads. "He said he replied to the Attorney General, 'Are you freaking kidding me?' and then hung his head and walked away. The Attorney General then left Lafayette Park.
"The USPP operations commander denied that the Attorney General ordered him to clear Lafayette Park and H Street," Lee asserts.
The report notes that a group from the Bureau of Prisons arrived at the scene late that day, yet they did not receive a full briefing and used pepper pellets on protesters "contrary to the USPP incident commander's instructions."
Additionally, the report points out that "the USPP and the Secret Service did not use a shared radio channel to communicate" and determined that "weaknesses in communication and coordination may have contributed to confusion during the operation."
On Wednesday, Trump praised his exoneration after the release of the report.
"Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!" the 45th president said.
"As we have said all along, and it was backed up in today's highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine [U.S.] 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," he continued.
"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."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.