Inside the White House decision to clear protesters so Trump could have a photo op

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U.S. President Donald Trump walks between lines of riot police in Lafayette Park across from the White House, after walking to St. John's Church for a photo opportunity during protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd. June 1, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Tom Brenner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Protests are continuing nationwide following the police killing of George Floyd. On Monday, the National Guard used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House, so President Trump could walk across the street to take a picture holding a bible in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, which was set on fire over the weekend. The order to clear the protestors out of Lafayette Park came from Attorney General Bill Barr himself, according to the Washington Post. 

Before that moment, Trump addressed the days of unrest for the first time. From the White House Rose Garden, he said, “These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is offense to humanity and a crime against God. America needs creation, not destruction. Cooperation, not contempt. Security, not anarchy.”

Trump threatened to deploy the military to American cities who couldn’t get protests under control. Earlier in the day, he called the nation’s governors “weak.” 

Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized President Trump’s response to the protests: “I look at the presidency as a very big job. And nobody will get it right every time and I won't either. But I promise you this. I won't traffic in fear and division. I won't fan the flames of hate. I'll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain.”