The notion that the street-clearing offensive around Lafayette Square was already planned, and separate from Trump’s decision to visit a nearby church, has emerged as the administration’s central explanation for scenes of federal officers shoving protesters with shields and firing pepper balls, chemical grenades and smoke bombs at retreating crowds on June 1…

However, the accounts of more than a half-dozen officials from federal law enforcement, D.C. public safety agencies and the National Guard who were familiar with planning for protests outside the White House that day challenge that explanation. The officials told The Washington Post they had no warning that U.S. Park Police, the agency that commanded the operation, planned to move the perimeter — and protesters — before a 7 p.m. citywide curfew, or that force would be used…

Another D.C. public safety official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operation, said it was as if the Park Police plan to move the perimeter had been “hurried up” around the time the president decided to walk to the church. The clearing of the area began just after 6:30 p.m., and Trump left the White House for the church about 7:02 p.m…

Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said he was stunned to watch the scenes of protesters fleeing officers on television that evening.

“I never heard any plan, ever, that police or National Guard were going to push people out of Lafayette Square,” said Lengyel, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.