A National Guardsman told Attorney General Bill Barr that the protest outside the White House was peaceful before Barr ordered federal forces to tear gas protesters anyway, Washington DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said.
The Trump administration has tried to spin the tear gas as just a tear-inducing chemical irritant and has claimed that the protests were not peaceful despite ample evidence that they were.
Barr on Sunday argued that the protesters were “not peaceful” because of clashes that took place during previous nights. There were no reports of similar clashes on Monday, when Barr had forces clear the area so Trump could stage a photo-op in front of a nearby fire-damaged church well ahead of the city’s 7 pm curfew.
National Guard contradicts Barr:
“Three warnings were given, but the peaceful crowd was too large for most to hear the warnings,” Norton said in a statement on Monday. “The sudden use of smoke and pepper balls caused pandemonium. A horse cavalry pushed the crowd from H street to Connecticut Avenue. The D.C. National Guard member spoke to Attorney General Barr, who was in charge, and explained that the crowd was peaceful, but troops from federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, remained.”
“At the time the horse cavalry cleared the way for the president and his entourage to go to the church, no additional assets had been found to be necessary and the D.C. National Guard has remained able to handle the peaceful crowds since,” she added.
Barr undercuts Trump’s bunker claim:
Barr even contradicted President Donald Trump’s claim about his trip to the White House bunker.
Trump was taken to the bunker with his family by Secret Service on May 29 amid violent protests but he claimed to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade last week that he was just there for an “inspection.”
Barr undercut his claim during an interview on Monday.
"Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended that the President go down to the bunker," Barr said. "We can't have that in our country. And so the decision was made. We had to move the perimeter one block. And that was what we were doing.”