Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses how Trump weaponized the federal government for his political benefit.
A year ago, officials forcibly cleared Layfette Square shortly befoe Trump's Bible photo op. Many interpret a recent report as suggesting that the photo op did not motivate the clearance. Ryan Cooper at The Week:
The inspector general (IG) of the U.S. Park Police recently published a report taking issue with this history. The "evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park," wrote IG Mark Lee Greenblatt, who instead found that the park was cleared so that some fencing could be put up.
Now, the report does say that the clearance had been planned for days to install some fencing, and that happened long before Trump decided to visit. But it also says that the specific time of the clearance had not been settled, and that at about 6:10 on that day, Attorney General Barr came out of the White House and asked the USPP commander: "Are these people still going to be here when [President Trump] comes out?" to which the commander responded, "Are you freaking kidding me?" and hung his head.
USPP personnel insisted to the IG that Barr's request did not affect their plans (a highly dubious assertion), but it was actually the Secret Service who initiated the park clearance. "At approximately 6:16 p.m., contrary to the operational plan and before the USPP gave the first dispersal warning, the Secret Service entered H Street from Madison Place … the Secret Service lieutenant later apologized for the early entry onto H Street during the operation but did not explain why it occurred." About seven minutes later the clearance began in earnest.
A very obvious question would be whether Barr, or someone else from the White House, ordered the Secret Service to start attacking the protesters. The IG did not even try to figure this out: "[We] did not seek to interview Attorney General William Barr, White House personnel, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officers, MPD personnel, or Secret Service personnel," it reads. The presence of the BOP is another giant question mark: "The USPP acting chief of police and the USPP incident commander told us they did not request the BOP's assistance and did not know who dispatched them to Lafayette Park on June 1." One wonders why they bothered even writing this report at all.