The US Park Police planned to clear protesters from Lafayette Park before they learned that former President Donald Trump planned to hold a photo-op in front of a nearby church, according to a report from the Interior Department’s inspector general.
The report said that “the evidence did not support a finding” that the Park Police cleared protesters using tear gas just for Trump, stating that the Park Police planned to install a new scale-proof fence in the area. But the IG report noted that the investigation was limited and did not look at other agencies.
“It was a fulsome review of everything in our jurisdiction,” IG Mark Greenblatt told The New York Times. “The unfortunate thing is not everything is in our jurisdiction.”
The Park Police were unaware of Trump’s plan to walk through the area “hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park,” the report said.
But Secret Service instigated violence:
Though Greenblatt did not interview members of the Secret Service, his report noted that the Secret Service, “contrary to the operational plan” and before the Park Police warned the crowd to disperse, got into a confrontation with protesters.
Video showed “the Secret Service responding by deploying pepper spray,” the report said.
“The Secret Service’s early deployment drew additional protesters… increasing tensions between law enforcement and protesters,” the report said. “The Secret Service lieutenant later apologized for the early entry… but did not explain why it occurred.”
Greenblatt “uncomfortable” with Trump’s praise:
Trump in a statement thanked Greenblatt for “completely and totally exonerating me.”
“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,” Trump said. “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!”
Greenblatt told the Times he was “uncomfortable” with the comments.
“We are independent from any political administration,” he said. “This is not at all comfortable footing for anyone in my community.”