By Corinne Murdock
Representative Ruben Gallego’s (D-AZ-07) falsely accused previous President Donald Trump of using police to clear protesters for a photo op last June, per the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) final report. Gallego wasn’t the only one – he rode the same bandwagon as many of the mainstream media outlets. The DOI published their report on Wednesday.
According to the report, officers were attempting to install more fencing to guard against the onslaught of Black Lives Matter (BLM) rioters. Their attempts to clear the protesters had no connection to Trump’s visit. In fact, the report says, officers began clearing the area hours before they knew of Trump’s visit.
DOI Inspector General (IG) Mark Lee Greenblatt issued a press release accompanying the report. Greenblatt clarified that this report would be “the first of a number of projects” to examine all that occurred from an operational perspective the day of the incident, June 1. Those projects would assess how the U.S. Park Police (USPP) and other law enforcement decided to clear the park and acted upon those plans.
“The evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing in response to the destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and 31,” said Greenblatt, in reference to the BLM riots over George Floyd’s death on those days. “Moreover, the evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day. As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.” (emphasis added)
Greenblatt acknowledged that officers did fail to provide “loud enough” dispersal warnings and exit directions to the protesters. He added that individual use-of-force incidents are subject to separate investigations and ongoing lawsuits.
It is unclear why it took a year and several days to complete this report.
Following the Congressional hearing about the incident last July, reporters asked Gallego if the hearing offered more transparency or left him with more questions. Gallego was confident that Trump attacked the protestors purposefully and accused him of pushing “one big cover-up” onto the public.
“I’m not confused at all – to be honest, I actually feel even more satisfied to know that this was a preplanned operation to incite violence and to initiate violence against peaceful protesters in order for the President to have his photo op,” said Gallego.
WATCH: National Guard officer contradicts Barr’s account of clearing protesters from Lafayette Square during racial protests.@RepRubenGallego: “I’m not confused at all. … This was a preplanned operation to incite violence.” pic.twitter.com/eqpDXK30Of
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) July 29, 2020
Later, during the Congressional hearing, Gallego also accused officers and officials testifying of telling “lies and excuses.” In a Facebook and Twitter posting, Gallego is seen in a video accusing USPP Acting Chief Gregory Monahan of attacking peaceful protesters. Monahan responded repeatedly that officers had based their response on the level of violence that had been occurring.
“U.S. Park Police’s actions in Lafayette Square on June 1 were unprofessional and unconstitutional. I would never have been permitted to behave that way with civilians when serving in Iraq – particularly for a photo op,” wrote Gallego. “Today’s testimony was full of lies and excuses. We need accountability.”
Gallego has yet to issue a response concerning his false accusation.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.