Trump thanks watchdog for 'exonerating' him regarding clearing of protesters from Lafayette Park
The Interior Dept. watchdog said the evidence did not support a determination that the park had been cleared so that Trump could venture over to the church.
President Trump has issued a statement thanking the Interior Department inspector general for "Totally exonerating" him regarding the June 1 expulsion of protesters from Lafayette Park shortly before he walked over to St. John's Church.
"Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!" Trump said. "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!"
In a report about its review of the actions U.S. Park Police (USPP) engaged in to clear protesters in and around the park, the watchdog said the evidence did not support a determination that the park had been cleared so that Trump could venture over to the church.
"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," the report said. "Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31. Further, the evidence showed that the USPP did not know about the President's potential movement until mid- to late afternoon on June 1—hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park."
In a statement about the special review report, Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt said: "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."
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