White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration regrets nothing about police using violent force to clear peaceful anti-racism protesters outside the White House last week.
“There’s no regrets on the part of this White House because, look, I’d note that many of those decisions were not made here within the White House,” she said, pointing to Attorney General William Barr as the one who called for law enforcement to enclose on the perimeter of the protest.
McEnany’s defense comes a week after various law enforcement agencies cleared protesters demanding an end to police brutality against Black Americans in Lafayette Square, the park outside the White House, 30 minutes before a curfew went into effect. According to reporters and footage from the protest, police used tear gas, pepper spray, smoke canisters, stun grenades and rubber bullets to clear the largely peaceful crowd ― though Trump’s administration specifically denies the use of tear gas.
Minutes after clearing the protest, Trump walked through the park to have a photo-op with a Bible while posing in front of the historic St. John’s Church.
McEnany also claimed that because some “protesters started hurling objects” at officers, “Park Police acted as they felt they needed to at that time in response, and we stand by those actions.”
Reporters at the gathering saw no evidence that protesters were throwing objects at authorities, calling into question claims by U.S. Park Police that protesters were pummelling “bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids” at them.
While McEnany and other White House officials have focused on Park Police’s role in the events, reporters say the officers clearing the protest included a mix of US Secret Service, the US Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
When a reporter pressed McEnany on Monday to say if Trump was truly “not sorry for the way things went” at the protest, she pivoted to two of Trump’s favourite scapegoats: the media and “antifa,” an umbrella term for leftist, anti-fascist militants.
“The president is sorry about the fact that antifa wreaks havoc in our streets and the failure of some members of the media to note that,” she said, repeating Trump’s baseless claims that the protests are not actually led by people outraged by systemic racism and the police killing of George Floyd.