WASHINGTON – A federal watchdog said Wednesday that U.S. park police planned to remove protesters well from a park near the White House before learning that President Donald J. Trump was going to walk through the area last year.
The report by the Inspector General of the Department of Home Affairs concluded that ‘the evidence does not support a finding’ that the Park Police were investigating the area only for Mr. Trump cleared. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible.
The outbreak of violence in Lafayette Square, which culminated in protests against racial justice last summer, has become one of the defining moments of the Trump presidency. Protesters in the shadow of the White House were repulsed with smoke, flash grenades and chemical spray deployed by shield-carrying riot officers and mounted police.
The Inspector General of the Department of Home Affairs contains 30 pages and provides new details on the decision-making of the Park Police. And the sequence of events described in the report suggests that the operation to clear the area became violent shortly after the Park police of Mr. Trump’s arrival has been announced.
But the author of the report was careful to warn that it should not become a definitive report of the day, in part because so many other law enforcement agencies were involved. Inspector General Mark L. Greenblatt noted that it was not in his jurisdiction to investigate what the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies know and who may have ordered them to use force to clean up the park.
“It was a complete overview of everything in our jurisdiction,” said Mr. Greenblatt said in an interview. “The unfortunate thing is not that everything is in our jurisdiction.”
The long-awaited report was ordered by lawmakers from Congress and former Home Secretary David Bernhardt to determine the reasons for the dispersal of the protesters and whether it was commissioned to draft a presidential photo. .
According to the report, Park police planned to clear the area so contractors could install new fences.
But protesters were allowed to gather there all day. Mr. Greenblatt said it was because authorities were waiting for contractors to show up and that enough law enforcers showed up so they could clean up the park. It happened around 5:30 p.m., less than an hour before William P. Barr, the then attorney general, came to inspect the area himself.
Evidence showed that the Park police did not know about Mr. Trump’s plan to walk across the square will not last until ‘mid- to late afternoon on June 1 – hours after the operational plan began to develop and the fencing contractor arrived in the park,’ the report reads.
The chief of staff informed the chief of operations of the Park Police about Mr. Trump’s plan when Mr. Barr comes to inspect the area.
“Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out?” According to the report, Mr. Barr refers to the President of the United States.
The operations commander replied that Mr. Barr: “Are you kidding me?” He then hung his head and walked away, the report said.
Shortly afterwards, the confrontation became violent.
Other agencies involved in the day included the National Guard, police in the Capitol of the United States and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mr. Greenblatt noted that the Secret Service had begun clearing the park before Park Police issued their first distribution warning. In a footnote, the decision is mentioned as being ‘contrary to the operational plan’.
Mr. Trump issued a statement on Wednesday thanking the Inspector General for what he calls: “completely acquitting me in the openness of Lafayette Park!”
In an interview, Mr. Greenblatt said he did not appreciate the comment.
“It’s uncomfortable for me,” he said. “We are independent of any political government. It’s not comfortable for everyone in my community at all. ”