• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

US official says he is 'uncomfortable' with praise from Trump for report that he did not order police to violently clear protesters for his Bible photo op

·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Then-President Donald Trump holds a Bible while visiting St. John's Church across from the White House after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Then-President Donald Trump holds a Bible at St. John's Church across from the White House after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
  • Trump said a report on the aggressive clearance of Lafayette Park last year exonerated him.

  • Trump was accused of having police violently clear the park to stage a photo op with a Bible.

  • But the Interior Department inspector general rejected Trump's attempt to praise him.

  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Mark Greenblatt, the Interior Department inspector general, said he was "uncomfortable" with praise lavished on him by former President Donald Trump about a report on the clearance of protesters from Lafayette Park last year.

In the report released Wednesday, Greenblatt found that park police were not responding to orders from Trump when they planned to clear Lafayette Park, near the White House, of protesters during the height of last summer's anti-racism protests.

He said the clearance was part of an existing plan to establish a security perimeter, seemingly clearing Trump of responsibility for the heavy-handed action.

Initial reports last year suggested that it was Trump who ordered the park to be cleared by officers wielding batons and using tear gas in order to pose for photos nearby. Trump took advantage of the park being cleared to stage a photo op holding a Bible outside a church damaged in the protests.

According to the report by Greenblatt, park police found out about Trump's photo op only after planning to clear the park.

In a statement Wednesday, the former president hailed the report as a vindication.

"Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!" Trump said in a statement.

"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," the former president said.

But Greenblatt was not comfortable with the praise.

"That's uncomfortable for me," he told The New York Times of the former president's comments. "We are independent from any political administration. This is not at all comfortable footing for anyone in my community."

Trump nominated Greenblatt as inspector general, a nonpartisan role, in 2019, and he was confirmed by the Senate.

He was keen to stress in his comments to The Times that he was not authorized to examine the actions of other law-enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service, to establish what they knew and who might have used them to use force to clear the park.

"It was a fulsome review of everything in our jurisdiction," Greenblatt said in the interview. "The unfortunate thing is not everything is in our jurisdiction."

The report was commissioned by Congress and former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to establish the chain of events that led to the photo shoot.

Read the original article on Business Insider