D.C. police use tear gas to clear protesters from Lafayette Park moments before Trump speech

Is this as bad as it looks or am I missing a piece of information?

Trump announced that he was going to speak in the Rose Garden at 6:15. Curfew in D.C. tonight is at 7 p.m. by order of the mayor. Protesters had been demonstrating in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, all afternoon.

Shortly before Trump went to the podium, the attorney general came out towards the park to chat with law enforcement.

Soon afterward, all hell broke loose:

Possible information I’m missing: Were the protesters being violent, requiring a police response? Reporters on the scene say they weren’t. So what are the police doing going in there like a goon squad to run them out of a place they were entitled to be until 7 p.m.?

Trump began his speech tonight by calling himself a defender of law and order and an ally of peaceful protesters. D.C. cops were running peaceful protesters out of a public space at that very moment just a block or two today, apparently on Bill Barr’s orders. Bbecause they created an “unhelpful” backdrop to the president’s speech.

Oh, and because Trump — with Bible in hand — and his aides wanted a photo op at St. John’s church across the street, which was partially burned last night:

He had no more right to the park than the protesters did. And the cops had no authority to remove them before 7, especially as aggressively as they did, unless they were behaving violently.

The read as I write this on political Twitter is that he *wants* a provocation. He invited the antagonism of pushing the protesters out of the park, knowing that it’s likely to set people off tonight and encourage even more rage. Then he’ll get to send in the troops, leading to God knows what, and strut around proclaiming that he’s Mr. Law and Order. At the very least he’ll get to show that he’s not cowering in his bunker. For the moment.

This will backfire. It’s true that voters want the rioting to end but I think they want all of the upheaval of this era to end, and he’s the face of it. The riots will be a distant memory in November but the residue will be a sense of endless destabilization, often abetted by the president willingly or through incompetence, that’s grown somehow tiresome and dangerous all at once. It won’t be forgotten at the polls that he always sought maximum conflict.

Update: If you’re going to tear-gas protesters because they’re in the way of a photo op to impress your base, there’s no sense being subtle about that photo op.

Ask him to quote a single line from the Bible from memory. Except “an eye for an eye,” I mean. We know he knows that one.