President Trump has drawn backlash for his photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church following his first formal address Monday evening amid mounting protests nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death.Just before the President delivered his address in the Rose Garden, federal police used tear gas and flash bangs to disperse what appeared to be a peaceful crowd of protesters outside the White House as Washington, D.C.’s 7 p.m. curfew order approached.
After his brief remarks, President and several members of his administration made a surprise visit to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was vandalized during protests the night before.
Despite criticism from local religious leaders — which include an Episcopal priest in D.C. who said that federal police used tear gas to kick her off of the church’s property ahead of Trump’s photo-op — both Trump’s campaign and the White House took the opportunity to use his photo-op as a way to bolster his claim that he is the “President of law and order.”
Trump campaign director of communications Tim Murtaugh tweeted a black and white photo of the President leaving the White House to walk toward St. John’s just hours after the photo-op.
— Tim Murtaugh – Download the Trump 2020 app today! (@TimMurtaugh) June 2, 2020
A few hours later, the White House tweeted a campaign-style video touting Trump’s surprise visit.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 2, 2020
Trump appeared to still ride high off of his actions on Monday night in a tweet the following morning, claiming that D.C. had “no problems” due to “many arrests.”
D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2020