House Democrats are up for another investigation of the Trump administration, this time targeting the removal of Washington, D.C., demonstrators in the path of a presidential visit to a nearby church burned by rioters.
More than 80 House Democrats are calling for a Justice Department special prosecutor to investigate the use of crowd-control methods on demonstrators who had occupied the Secret Service's planned path from the White House through Lafayette Square to St. John's Episcopal Church.
President Donald Trump, who walked to the church after an anti-riot speech Monday, tweeted a succinct defense for his visit to the arson-hit church after the House Democrats' call for an investigation on Thursday:
"YOU DON'T BURN CHURCHES IN AMERICA!"
Attorney General William Barr had to order to the crowd moved for the presidential visit to the vandalized church amid nationwide violence, destruction, looting, and riots. Barr has reminded reporters this week, the U.S. president could not be exposed to violent demonstrators on his walk through a crowd which were peppering riot-control officers with water bottles and rocks.
"The president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation and should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street to the church of presidents," Barr said Thursday. "I don't necessarily view that as a political act. I think it was entirely appropriate for him to do.
"I saw the projectiles on Monday when I went to Lafayette Park to look at the situation," he continued.
"There were projectiles being thrown and the group was becoming increasingly unruly and the operation to which they were asked three times if they would move back one block.
"They refused, and we proceeded to move our perimeter out to I Street."
Still, Democrats, who were unable to achieve impeachment from either special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia election meddling investigation or the holding up of Ukraine aid, were digging in their heels on this new set of circumstances in their call for a prosecutor and correspondence with the attorney general.
"We could not understand why such aggressive tactics were used . . . until we saw the president, yourself, and several senior White House officials walk through the site of the protest to film a cynical, political propaganda video that the White House later released through social media," Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., wrote in a letter to AG Barr on Thursday.
"Given the issues at stake, and your evident role in suppressing the right of the American people to redress their grievances, it is clear that a special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate your actions and the actions of all executive branch officials involved in this action."
Media had reported the use of tear gas, but the riot-control officers of the U.S. Park Police told reporters the crowd-control measures involved smoke canisters and pepper balls, not tear gas, The Hill reported.
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