The inspector general’s report hinges on a finding that the Park Police were already making plans to clear the park to install new fencing before commanders knew of Trump’s intended plan. This is consistent with previous claims. Since the Park Police were already intending to clear the park, the report argues, it cannot be said that it was done for Trump’s photo-op.
“[T]he 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,” writes Greenblatt.
The problem is that everything else in the report, as in previous press reports and television coverage of the day, clearly demonstrates that while the plan to alter fencing in the park was already in the works before law enforcement knew Trump planned to walk through the area, the operation was sped up to hastily accommodate the Trump plan.
“Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out,” William Barr had asked on-scene commanders after arriving at the White House. “The commander said that he [had] known until then that Trump would be coming out of the White House and into Lafayette Park,” notes NBC News.
What happened next was broadcast nationally. Park Police, augmented with Bureau of Prisons officers and other federal officers under the control of William Barr, fired off tear gas as cable television channels tuned in live to await an announced Donald Trump speech. Federal forces violently cleared the square without, as the report notes, even giving the crowd due notice that they must disperse.
During that operation, Trump appeared in front of the cameras to deliver a pointedly aggressive speech.
“I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property,” he said.
At the conclusion of the speech, he then announced the walk:
“Thank you very much. And now I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place.”
So we know, for a fact, several things:
• We know that Trump was intending to walk to the church when he walked out to give his speech.
• We know that William Barr knew he would be doing it, and informed a commander in advance.
• We know that federal forces then began to violently clear the square precisely at the time designated for Trump’s speech and walk.
It is self-evident that whatever plans the Park Police had previously made, those plans were changed specifically to clear the park for Trump’s planned walk. Pretending that they were not is something very close to gaslighting. It’s implausible.
If the square had been cleared prior to Trump’s walk, it would be reasonable to say that Trump’s walk had nothing to do with it. If the square had not been cleared, and Trump was obliged to either walk through the peaceful but booing crowd or to cancel the stunt, there would have been no scandal.
But it’s simply impossible to argue that the square was not cleared more aggressively than it would have been if the sitting President of the United States had not intended to saunter through the area mere minutes afterword. It’s ridiculous.
Why the inspector general’s office is trying so very hard to immunize all of government from an act that was very clearly spurred by presidential actions is not clear, but this particular justification of events is not plausible. It does not square with Barr’s actions. It doesn’t square with the videotape we have of the day. It’s simply not plausible.