President Donald Trump released a statement Wednesday thanking the Department of the Interior for clarifying that Trump did not clear out demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd for the purpose of a photo op.
“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park,” Trump said in the statement.
A Wednesday report by Mark Greenblatt, the Interior Department inspector general, revealed that Park Police were given permission to clear the area well in advance of anyone knowing Trump had plans to be in the area.
“As we have said all along, and it was backed up in today’s highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing to protect from Antifa rioters, radical BLM protestors, and other violent demonstrators who are causing chaos and death to our cities,” Trump stated.
“In this instance, they tried burning down the church the day before the clearing. Fortunately, we were there to stop the fire from spreading beyond the basement—and it was our great honor and privilege to do so. Again, thank you to the Inspector General!” he added.
At the time of the incident, Trump was criticized, and sued, for allegedly clearing the area so he could walk across the street to St. John’s Episcopal Church and take a picture while holding up a Bible. The church had been vandalized and set on fire the previous night.
Then-candidate Joe Biden was one of the staunchest critics of Trump at the time, claiming that Trump cleared the area for a photo shoot.