Donald Trump bragged Tuesday that law enforcement ‘dominated’ in Washington, D.C. Monday night as he claimed there were ‘no problems’ with rioters, but in the same tweet claimed there were ‘many arrests’ – then motorcaded past the remnants of chaos to visit a Catholic shrine.
‘Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!),’ he added, as he continues to take credit for de-escalating riots in Minneapolis, Minnesota after he urged the Democratic governor to activate the National Guard there in the wake of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the city’s police.
Despite the president’s claim, D.C. riots continued in full force Monday – even after a 7:00 p.m. curfew was enacted.
Looting, arson and confrontations between rioters and law enforcement continued in the nation’s capital as military helicopters hovered low above the streets, using tactics practiced in Iraq and Afghanistan to deter insurgents.
And as the city cleaned up Tuesday morning, Trump took Melania on a trip to the national shrine to Pope John Paul II, as Democrats including Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi ripped him for having protesters tear-gassed and ‘beaten’ so he could pose in front of another church on Monday night.
The growing controversy over Trump’s photo-op came as:
- Violence and looting happened in cities across the country for the seventh straight night;
- Five police officers were shot and a speeding SUV drove into cops in Manhattan;
- New York extended a curfew to the end of the week as stores including Macy’s were looted;
- Trump claimed New York was ‘lost to the looters’ and demanded governor Andrew Cuomo call in the National Guard – then kept up his bogus claim that the national guard is the president’s to deploy;
- The attorney-general of New York said she would sue Trump if he tried to deploy the military to the state, setting up a clash which could end in constitutional crisis;
- The leader of the police union in Minneapolis was revealed to have called George Floyd a ‘violent’ criminal, and defended the four officers fired over his death, including his alleged murderer;
- The division across the nation roiled one of its richest men as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg faced an internal rebellion over refusing to censor Trump’s words, then told employees he was ‘disgusted’ at what the president said.
Trump however tried to put that to one side by going to the shrine, and posing in front of the late pope, who is now a saint, standing hand-in-hand with Melania and saying nothing about the violence.
Posing with a saint: Trump and Melania went to the national shrine to John Paul II, the late pope who is now a saint, in his second invocation of religious imagery in two days.
Silent: Trump and Melania said nothing after inspecting a wreath at the shrine to Pope John Paul II. It is run by the Knights of Columbus. His White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was once the Catholic men’s society’s general counsel
Donald Trump claimed Tuesday morning that there were ‘no problems’ in Washington D.C. on Monday, but also claimed there were ‘many arrests’ as violent protesters continued to ransack the streets of the nation’s capital in another night of riots over George Floyd’s death
View from the motorcade: Trump’s trip in the Beast with Melania took him past dozens of protesters and banners hung in its path highlighting the death of George Floyd
Trolling Trump: Protesters on the way to the shrine highlighted Trump fleeing to the White House bunker on Friday night when protests raged outside the executive mansion
On the intersection: A man dressed as Abraham Lincoln offered a mesage for Trump
This is what normal looks like: Despite Trump’s claim, the scenes in the nation’s capital were similar to other nights in the city – and even saw military helicopter hovering over protesters and rioters in an attempt to disperse the crowd
Demonstrators continued to class with law enforcement blocking off streets and sections of the city
The president walked from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday, which was set on fire during Sunday’s riots, for a photo-op where he held up his bible after declaring in Rose Garden remarks that he is America’s ‘law and order president’
He was hustled on a motorcade across a city scarred by violence he claimed had not happened, with protest signs on his route.
Trump’s visit to the shrine was followed by a signing a ‘proclamation on religious freedom’ in a sign of how he is hoping to appeal to religious voters.
The shrine to Pope John Paul II is located in Northeast Washington, D.C. and is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. While it is a place of prayer for Catholics, it welcomes people of all faiths.
The president traveled there by motorcade with first lady Melania – passing protesters mocking him for retreating to a bunker and slamming him for using St John’s as a photo-op, as well as expressing anger at the death of Floyd and systematic racism.
Melania claims to be Catholic but has never been seen publicly attending a Catholic Church and it has been a full year since the president last attended a church service.
The move comes the morning after President Trump used the front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was boarded up, for a photo-op Monday – having peaceful protester tear-gassed and pushed back by police mounted on horses.
It is located directly across from the north side of the White House, only separated by Lafayette Park, which was tear gassed to disperse protesters moments before the president emerged from his residence to make the short trek across the street – flanked by Secret Service, cabinet members, aides and media the whole way there and back.
Priests from the church revealed Monday that they were part of a peaceful crowd that was tear gassed by cops who were clearing a path for Trump.
Gini Gerbasi, a rector at the Church, revealed on Facebook Monday that she and other clergy and laypeople were passing out water to protesters when police flooded the area, pushing protesters, deploying tear gas and unleashing rubber bullets.
‘That man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second,’ Gerbasi said in her post.
St. John’s was boarded up as protests surrounded the White House the last few days and convened in Lafayette Park, which sits between the White House and church. Rioters set a in the basement of the church on Sunday
Protesters in Lafayette Park were tear gassed and hit with non lethal rubber bullets to clear the path for the president’s trek across the street
Before walking out the front gates of the White House to the church, Trump declared in his Rose Garden address to the nation that he was leaving to ‘pay my respects to a very, very special place.’
The visit was a clear photo-op, with him spending less than five minutes in front of the church and calling up members of his cabinet to stand by his side and face the media.
He was joined by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Attorney General Barr, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley was part of the entourage, but was not called up by the president to participate in the photo-op.
When he arrived in front of the church, he declared America the ‘greatest country in the world’ before holding up his bible for a picture.
He also asserted ‘we’re going to keep it [America] safe.’
A fire burned in the basement of St. John’s Church Sunday night but the chapel was not affected, and it has been boarded up during the violent protests.
The church burned on Sunday as rioters descended on Lafayette Park where they lit American Flags on fire and confronted law enforcement and were tear gassed – other demonstrators also surrounded the White House.
Trump’s appearance at St. John’s marked the first time the president has publicly visited a church since June of 2019.
Every sitting president, with the exception of Richard Nixon, has attended the church at least once since it was built in 1816, starting with James Madison.
Trump was allegedly angry about news coverage that he fled into a White House bunker on Friday and was worried for his safety during George Floyd protests as riots broke out across Washington, D.C. – and hundreds of other cities across the country.
Trump told his aides that he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates, prompting his walk to St. Johns, according to CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlin Collins.
But his photo shoot triggered outrage from church leaders and rival politicians, and led Arlington County police to pull their officers out of the capital after they were used to charge at protesters.
Rector Gerbasi revealed in a shaken Facebook post that she and other Black Lives Matter organizers were passing out water and help to protesters alongside fellow clergy and laypeople, when police pushed out protesters with tear gas and non lethal bullets.
‘That man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second,’ Gerbasi wrote.
Rector Gini Gerbasi (left) and priest Glenna Huber (right) say they were apart of the crowd of peaceful George Floyd protesters that were teargassed and hit with rubber bullets by police clearing a path for President Donald Trump to take photos in front of St. John’s Church
Priest Glenna Hubber shared this post showing how she and other volunteers were passing out water bottles to demonstrators outside the White house when the police came
Glenna Huber, a priest and rector with The Church of the Epiphany said she was out helping volunteers when the police violently pushed them out for Trump’s photo opportunity
The Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC, Bishop Mariann Budde, slammed the president for using force ‘to use the church as a prop’
‘Friends, I am ok, but I am, frankly shaken…Around 6:15 or 6:30, the police started really pushing protesters off of H Street…They started using tear gas and folks were running at us for eyewashes or water or wet paper towels,’ she said.
She said she was appalled when she learned the clash with protesters was to clear the area for Trump.
Gerbasi shared this shaken post on Facebook describing how the police violently pushed peaceful protesters out of St. John’s Church
‘I literally COULD NOT believe it. We were driven off the patio at St. John’s – a place of peace and respite and medical care throughout the day – so that man could have a photo opportunity in front of the church. People were hurt so he could pose in front of the church with a Bible,’ she said.
Glenna Huber, a priest and rector with The Church of the Epiphany was also at the church aiding protesters when the police came and forced the crowd out.
‘I’m horrified. Just moments before we were handing out snacks and water. There was some men singing on the steps. People were chanting and peacefully assembling. I left as the National Guard arrived. They sprayed tear gas. I was gone before the rubber bullets. And then the President spoke,’ Hubber posted on Facebook.
Following the incident, Arlington County officials called their police out of Washington DC after their officers, armed in ACPD helmets and riot gear, assisted US Park officials in dispersing protesters near the church.
Arlington officials said they sent officers on Sunday following a mutual aid request from Park Police, but they did not know officers would be used to clash with protesters and have ordered their police back home.
‘Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op. We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC,’ County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night, about two hours after Trump’s photo session.
‘At the direction of the County Board, County Manager and Police Chief, ACPD officers have left the District. We are evaluating the agreements that allowed our officers to be put in a compromising position, which devalued the purpose of these mutual aid obligations,’ County Board member Katie Cristol said.
Officers with the Arlington County Police Department are pictured pushing back demonstrators outside of the White House, and these law enforcement officers were called out of Washington D.C.
‘Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op. We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC,’ Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night, about two hours after Trump’s photo session
The president spoke in a televised speech from the Rose Garden on Monday evening and tear gas canisters could be heard exploding in the background before he walked over to the church and posed holding a Bible.
Trump claimed he’s an ally of peaceful demonstrators but warned, ‘I am your president of law and order.’
After his speech he walked to the church for his photo shoot.
The protesters in the area Monday evening appeared to be acting peacefully before they were forced out through the aggressive measures including rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas.
The Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC, Mariann Budde, slammed Trump for using force to push out George Floyd protesters and for posing in front of the embattled church.
Bishop Budde said: ‘I am outraged. I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to enflame violence.’
Budde said neither she nor the rector were told that authorities would be clearing protesters with tear gas, she said to the Washington Post.
Trump called members of his cabinet, including U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr (left), National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien (second from left) and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (right) up for the picture opportunity
The president pictured walking in Lafayette Park to visit St. John’s church from the White House on Monday evening, he was flanked by members of his cabinet, aides, Secret Service and various members of the media
A U.S. Secret Service counter assault team member carries a sniper rifle through Lafayette Park as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House amid George Floyd protests
She added: ‘We so disassociate ourselves from the messages of this president. We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so so grounding to our lives and everything we do and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice’.
She appeared on CNN Monday evening bashing Trump’s photo op as an ‘abuse of a sacred symbol to justify an approach to this crisis that is antithetical to everything that we stand for.’
The president posed for photographers, holding a Bible as he stood in front of the boarded-up 200-year-old church, that has been visited by every president since James Madison.
‘We have a great country. It won’t take long. It’s not going to take long to see what is going on. It’s coming back, and it’s coming back strong. It will be greater than ever before,’ Trump said as the clamor of protesters, helicopters and explosions are heard in the background.
Budde blasted Trump on MSNBC after it was revealed that protesters near the church were hit with tear gas and rubber bullets before the president arrived
Budde said the church would disassociate from the Trump administration
The historic church caught on fire Sunday evening amid police clashes with protesters. The cause of the fire is not known
Orange flames pictured erupting from a part of the church Sunday night
Presidential candidate Joe Biden also condemned Trump’s use of military action against protesters.
‘He’s using the American military against the American people. He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo. For our children, for the very soul of our country, we must defeat him. But I mean it when I say this: we can only do it together,’ Biden tweeted Monday evening.
Florida Rep. Val Demings tweeted: ‘When we impeached this president, we warned that he was a dictator in waiting. I believe now what I believed then: this president is a threat to our democracy, our families, and to us.’
New York Andrew Cuomo slammed the president as ‘shameful’ for dispersing peaceful protesters for his own agenda
CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlin Collins tweeted Trump was angry about news coverage that he fled into a White House bunker on Friday during George Floyd protests and told his aides he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates, prompting his walk to St. Johns
Trump pictured walking past a building defaced with graffiti by protesters in Lafayette Park on Monday after his photo opportunity at St. John’s Church
The president pictured pumping his first as he walks through a line of riot police in Lafayette Park across from the White House as he waked to St. John’s church on Monday
New York Andrew Cuomo slammed the president as ‘shameful’ for using military force to disperse peaceful protesters for his own agenda.
‘The president is calling out the American military against American citizens. He used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church. It’s all just a reality TV show for this president. Shameful,’ Cuomo tweeted Monday evening.
Credit — dailymail.co.uk