Secret Service says it used pepper spray on Lafayette Square protesters

Jordan Muller

The U.S. Secret Service on Saturday announced it had used pepper spray to clear protesters out of Lafayette Park before President Donald Trump’s photo op in front of a church, walking back earlier denials that it had deployed the chemicals on demonstrators.

“After further review, the U.S. Secret Service has determined that an agency employee used pepper spray on June 1st, during efforts to secure the area near Lafayette Park,” the Secret Service said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

The Secret Service and U.S. Park Police initially denied law enforcement used tear gas to disperse mostly peaceful protests outside the White House in early June, despite what journalists and other witnesses said was clear use of the chemicals just before Trump walked across the park to take photos in front of a church.

The president later tweeted an article claiming the media falsely reported law enforcement used tear gas on protesters, and White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany echoed denials from the president and the Park Police in a briefing with reporters.

A Park Police spokesperson later said it was a “mistake” to claim tear gas hadn’t been used on demonstrators.

The Secret Service on Saturday said one agency employee had used pepper spray on an “assaultive individual” while securing Lafayette Park.

House Democrats are probing the Secret Service’s involvement in clearing out Lafayette Park.