The attorney general says what we are thinking – when the media insists that the protesters are peaceful, it is a lie. Many of them have been violent, enough to wreak havoc and destruction on cities across the country. Tell the small business owners without insurance who had their storefront windows broken and their merchandise looted that it was just peaceful protesters upset about the death of George Floyd. What about all the injuries and hospitalizations and even some deaths that have been the result of protests?
Attorney General Barr sat down for an interview with Face the Nation‘s Margaret Brennan which aired Sunday morning. Addressing the protests of Sunday night a week ago, Barr said he was told by police officials that it was the most violent night in the last 30 years in D.C. He denies being the person who ordered Lafayette Park cleared so that a path was made for President Trump to walk over to St. John’s Church on Monday. When he was asked if he signed off on active military moving into the city he answered that no he didn’t. He went to a meeting at the White House on Monday morning and options were discussed. He wasn’t aware that the president intended to walk over to the church that had been burned by protesters until Monday afternoon.
I came over on- on Monday morning for a meeting. The night before had been the most violent, as one of the police officials told us, the D.C. police, it was the most violent day in Washington in 30 years, something that the media has not done a very good job of covering. And there had been a riot right along Lafayette Park. I was called over and asked if I would coordinate federal civil agencies and that the Defense Department would provide whatever support I needed or we needed to protect federal property at the White House, federal personnel. The decision was made to have at the ready and on hand in the vicinity some regular troops. But everyone agreed that the use of regular troops was a last resort and that as long as matters can be controlled with other resources, they should be. I felt, and the Secretary of Defense felt, we had adequate resources and wouldn’t need to use federal troops. But in case we did, we wanted them nearby.
Brennan was intent on getting Barr to admit something he was not going to do – that Trump wanted 10,000 troops on the street to deal with protesters. Barr explained that some troops were put on standby in the vicinity but not deployed. For example, some 82nd Airborne military police were brought into the area but not into D.C. He said he, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and General Milley, all were on the same page – the military should only be deployed as a last resort.
Barr confirmed the president has the right to overrule governors and send in military troops if necessary.
The- under the anti- Insurrection Act, the- the president can use regular troops to suppress rioting. The Confederate- the Confederacy in our country opposed the use of federal troops to restore order and suppress an insurrection. So the federal government sometimes doesn’t listen to governors in certain circumstances.
During the second part of the interview, the focus was on the events in Lafayette Park. Barr took the media to task for not reporting on the looting and violence that occurred Sunday night – including breaking into the Treasury Department. Brennan was busy telling Barr that three of her colleagues on the ground Monday say that tear gas was used to clear the crowd. He makes a distinction between pepper balls and tear gas, which he explained. He also insisted that three warnings were given to the crowd before law enforcement took matters into their own hands.
They were not peaceful protesters. And that’s one of the big lies that the- the media is- seems to be perpetuating at this point.
There were three warnings given. But let’s get back to why we took that action. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, OK, there were violent riots in- at Lafayette Park where the park police were under constant attack at the- behind their bike rack fences. On Sunday, things reached a crescendo. The officers were pummeled with bricks. Crowbars were used to pry up the pavers at the park and they were hurled at police. There were fires set in not only St. John’s Church, but a historic building at Lafayette was burned down.
Margaret Brennan was surprised to learn that the Treasury Department was broken into and officers were injured there. It just goes to show the lack of real journalistic coverage of all that is going on, even in the nation’s capital. Barr said that park police decided “on their own” Sunday night to push back the perimeter in Lafayette Park – to push it back one block. He agreed with that decision on Monday morning. “It was communicated to all the police agencies, including the Metropolitan Police at 2:00 p.m. that day.” He said Monday the park police said they were dealing with a rowdy, non-compliant crowd of protesters, hurling projectiles at law enforcement. Brennan insisted her three colleagues told her differently but Barr simply said, “I was there. They were thrown. I saw them thrown.” That stopped her insistence that he was wrong. And, he said again the media is getting the story wrong – it was an operation to move the perimeter, not to do crowd control. He said tear gas was used Sunday night to make way for the fire department to put out the fire at St. John’s Church but pepper balls were used Monday in Lafayette Square. One more time Barr corrected Brennan about the so-called peaceful protesters and the media’s incorrect narrative of the events on the ground.
All I heard- all I heard was comments about how peaceful protesters were. I didn’t hear about the fact that there were 150 law enforcement officers injured and many taken to the hospital with concussions. So it wasn’t a peaceful protest. We had to get control over Lafayette Park, and we had to do it as soon as we were able to do that.
Perhaps this interview was to clear up questions about if Barr did or did not order the police action against the crowd to move the perimeter. While the White House press secretary told reporters that it was Barr’s decision, he is saying it was the park police who made the plan and were in charge of doing it. It was beginning to look like some in the White House were trying to throw Barr under the bus. Instead of truthfully reporting about violence and looting, the press focused on Trump’s walk over to the historic church that protesters burned and blasted him for holding up a Bible while he was there. Funny, I never heard such sanctimonious criticism of President Clinton when he held up his Bible while walking past the press as he exited a church, which he frequently did. I don’t remember talk of using the Bible as a prop back then by the Horndog-in-Chief. 2020 is one crazy year.