WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The scene of President Trump, posing with a bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church after protestors were removed by force, became a defining moment of the last month’s protests.
Now, a congressional panel is investigating what led up to that moment.
Lawmakers like California democratic Representative Jared Huffman said it’s clear why U.S. Park Police forced the protestors out of Lafayette Park.
“Heavily armed U.S. Park Police carried out orders to use chemical agents and other forceful means to clear protestors so that Donald Trump could have a weird photo opp,” Rep. Huffman said.
But republicans, like California Representative Tom McClintock see things differently.
“To describe what happened in Washington D.C. as mostly peaceful protests, I think is like describing Al Capone as a mostly law abiding businessman,” Rep. McClintock said.
At issue is whether force was used specifically to open a path for the president. Legal expert Jonathan Turley said the answer isn’t clear.
“There has been a number of statements and timelines that presented that the plan to clear the park was in fact proposed two days earlier,” Turley said.
Turley said the operation’s legality may center on its method.
“The order to clear the park is probably going to be held as lawful,” he said. “Whether the means used to clear the park were lawful is something that this committee may be able to shed some light on.”
Republican Representative Bruce Westerman criticized the committee’s democratic chairman for not waiting to allow the U.S. Park Police to attend the hearing.
“I think there’s voices that aren’t being heard and we need to hear all voices,” Rep. Westerman said.
U.S. Park Police and other agencies said they could not attend because of pending lawsuits.