Inside the push to tear-gas protesters ahead of a Trump photo op

The split screen as Trump began speaking was dark and foreboding — an angry leader proclaiming himself “an ally of all peaceful protesters” alongside smoke-filled mayhem and pandemonium as protesters raced for safety…

When Trump had returned safely to the White House less than an hour later, the verdict seemed clear: The president had staged an elaborate photo op, using a Bible awkwardly held aloft as a prop and a historic church that has long welcomed presidents and their families as a backdrop.

In the process, protesters had been tear gassed and attacked, and Trump had taken a raging conflagration and doused it with accelerant.

“We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act,” said Brendan Buck, a longtime former Hill aide who is now a Republican operative. “The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten.”