White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended last Monday’s widely condemned move to violently disperse peaceful protesters from a park so that President Trump could walk to a church and pose there holding a Bible .
Many, including Trump’s own former secretary of defense, have criticized the use of force against people exercising their First Amendment right to assembly. McEnany countered such criticisms at Monday’s press briefing, using the never-apologize tactic that isa favorite of the president himself.
“There’s no regrets on the part of this White House,” she said in response to a journalist’s question about the clearing of Lafayette Square, which is across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. After the protesters were pushed back (whether tear gas or another agent was used remains a matter of dispute), Trump and several of his top advisers walked to St. John’s Church, where every U.S. president has worshipped for the last two centuries.
A fire had been started in the church the previous evening, which saw some looting and violence in parts of the district. Trump did not enter the church that Monday evening, nor did he meet with its clergy or even open the Bible handed him by his daughter Ivanka. Instead, he held up the book and, once the images he sought were captured, returned to .
The White House, where he sat through another night of furious protests. Those protests would continue throughout the week, culminating in a march on Washington this past Sunday that was notably joined by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. Romney is the first sitting U.S. senator from the GOP to join the protesters, in what could only be seen as a rebuke of Trump by one of the party’s leading figures.
Romney was also the only Republican to vote in favor of convicting Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment brought before the Senate earlier this year. Questions remain about who ordered the clearing of the protesters. The White House is eager to have those questions directed elsewhere,