The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Inspector General debunked claims made by then-Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, his eventual running mate Kamala Harris, and left-wing media last year about federal law enforcement’s response to a violent riot in Washington, D.C., by far-left activists.
The events in question surround violence from the far-left in the nation’s capital at the end of May and beginning of June in 2020, specifically around President Donald Trump’s visit to a church that had been set on fire.
“Police in Washington, D.C. used tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters to clear them away from St. John’s church, which suffered a small fire Sunday night, near the White House,” NPR tweeted on June 1. “President Trump then walked to the church for a photo op.”
Biden responded to NPR’s tweet by claiming: “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.”
However, DOI’s inspector general released a report on Wednesday that stated that Trump’s visit to the church had nothing to do with why the protesters, who had previously turned violent, were cleared out of the area:
This report presents a thorough, independent examination of that evidence to assess the [U.S. Park Police]’s decision making and operations, including a detailed timeline of relevant actions and an analysis of whether the USPP’s actions complied with governing policies. The evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing in response to destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and May 31. Moreover, the evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day. As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.
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. https://t.co/G1yE67q9Nz
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 2, 2020
“Donald Trump just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op,” Harris claimed.
Donald Trump just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op. https://t.co/nRzF0V4Kg5
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
Others, like CNN “fact-checker” Daniel Dale, also made claims about the events of that day.
“[Trump impeachment defense attorney Michael] Van der Veen falsely claims the clearing of Lafayette Square last June happened to ‘establish an appropriate security perimeter’ from a ‘riotous mob,'” Dale tweeted during Trump’s impeachment trial in February 2021. “No. They cleared peaceful protesters out of the way for a Trump photo-op. The ‘narrative’ van der Veen is mocking is correct.”
Van der Veen falsely claims the clearing of Lafayette Square last June happened to "establish an appropriate security perimeter" from a "riotous mob." No. They cleared peaceful protesters out of the way for a Trump photo-op. The "narrative" van der Veen is mocking is correct.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 13, 2021
Political strategist Arthur Schwartz highlighted an article in The New York Times by Katie Rogers that claimed in a headline that protesters were dispersed with tear gas “so Trump could pose at Church.”
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) June 9, 2021
Trump responded to the report by saying in a statement:
Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!
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. 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. Again, thank you to the Inspector General!
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