Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly asked law enforcement officials to push protesters out of Lafayette Square shortly before President Trump delivered an address at the White House amid protests nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
According to a Washington Post report on Tuesday, Barr made his decision late Sunday or early Monday to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square by one block, citing two law enforcement officials.
A Justice Department official told the Post that the plan, which Barr played a part in deciding, was set to be executed in the afternoon. The same official said that it came after Barr surveyed the scene in the afternoon and found that the perimeter had not been extended.
“He conferred with them to check on the status and basically said: ‘This needs to be done. Get it done,’” the Justice Department official told the Post, and adding that Barr “assumed that any resistance from the protesters of being moved would be met with typical crowd-control measures.”
The Post’s report comes amid Trump being criticized for his photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church after federal police used tear gas and flash bangs to disperse a peaceful crowd outside the White House during his Rose Garden speech.
Barr is also facing backlash after strolling with Defense Secretary Mark Esper around downtown Washington, D.C. on Monday night in a publicity stunt after the city’s curfew went into effect at 7 p.m. ET.